Offshore wind has the potential to deliver 90% of America’s projected 2050 electricity demand. This finding comes from “Offshore Wind for America,” a new report released by Environment America Research & Policy Center and Frontier Group which examines U.S. offshore wind potential by coastal region and by state. Offshore Wind for America also documents the status of existing projects and technological advances.
The report examined the Atlantic, Pacific, Gulf and Great Lakes regions and found that each has the capacity to develop offshore wind. The Atlantic region is the clear frontrunner in terms of its potential to generate offshore wind with the capacity, if fully developed, to generate four-times as much electricity as the region used in 2019. The Gulf is second, followed by the Pacific and then the Great Lake regions in their potential capacity.
“Offshore wind is a renewable energy gold mine begging to be used,” said Johanna Neumann, senior director of Environment America Research & Policy Center’s Campaign for 100% Renewable Energy. “If we went out today and maximized its potential, offshore wind alone could provide almost double the amount of electricity used by the entire U.S. in 2019. But even if we just unlock a fraction of America’s offshore wind capacity, it would help put us on track for a future powered by 100% renewable energy. Coupled with other renewable energy sources like solar and onshore wind, offshore wind promises to throw open the gates to a cleaner, healthier world for our kids and future generations.”
In total, 29 states were examined in the report. Massachusetts has the potential to generate the most offshore wind power of any state, while Maine has by far the highest ratio of potential offshore wind power to its current and future electricity needs. For projections of 2050 electricity demand, the report assumes that U.S. buildings, industry and transportation will all be powered by electricity rather than fossil fuels by mid-century.
“Nineteen states have the potential to produce more power from offshore wind than all the electricity they used in 2019,” said co-author Bryn Huxley-Reicher of Frontier Group. “And eleven states have the technical capacity to produce more electricity than they would be expected to use in 2050, even if they go all-electric. When you pair that potential with energy conservation and efficiency, you can start to imagine a world that really is fossil fuel-free.”
The report also highlights how the rise of offshore wind in Europe and Asia has played an important role in advancing offshore wind technologies. Notably, turbine size, generation capacity and efficiency are improving, while the introduction of floating turbines will be crucial for expanding offshore wind potential in states with especially deep coastal water, such as Maine and California.
“Offshore wind has already proven to be a tremendous success internationally, so these are not uncharted waters,” said Hannah Read, Go Big on Offshore Wind associate with Environment America Research & Policy Center. “America needs to follow the trend and develop renewable energy sources close to where we need the power, on our coasts where 40 percent of Americans live.”
The U.S. currently has two operational offshore wind farms and dozens of projects in the pipeline. Several Atlantic states have set enforceable targets for offshore wind in their energy mixes, but the report concludes that more state leadership and regional collaboration is needed to drive demand for offshore wind.
“For offshore wind to succeed, we need to set strong, enforceable targets around it,” Read said. “The sheer abundance of this incredible renewable resource should convince our state leaders to make bold commitments to start powering our homes with offshore wind.”
News item from Environment America Research & Policy Center
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Sean Noble says
The only thing needed to make this happen is to explain that they will still keep many of the existing plants ready to go during low wind/sun times. Utilities have always had stand by capacity and should be paid to keep it and tested once a month to get paid. Then during extreme times it’s there when we need it, but 90% of the rest of the time we use wind, solar, etc…. That’s the logical thing to do and will allow us to advance past the useless arguments.
Fred Golden says
Willard Sudduth, we already know that a offshore wind farm is capable of supplying thousands of MW of power. They did not need to know how many MW the Hoover Dam would produce each year before deciding to build it, and the output is variable each year depending on the millions of gallons of water they can pass in a given year. The output of every wind farm will be variable each hour and month, depending mostly on the weather.
We do not need to consume every KW as it is produced, as many think we must in the current electricity plan, where a coal or natural gas power plant is throttled up or down depending on demand. Once we have a supply of 30,000 MW of wind power, we could safely curtail any wind power that is not consumed at this time, and then bring those machines back online as soon as we need the power. We do not need to store the power for use during the next hour. Also large hydroelectric projects can curtail their output, and allow the dams to fill with more water when electric demands are low, and increase their flow when demands are high or winds are lower.
We can consume the excess power easy and turn it into hydrogen that would be piped into the local natural gas supply pipeline, and used to run natural gas appliances. This has been tested in England and already there are a pair of 1.25 MW hydrogen production units being installed.
What we need are better jack up barges, and to take lessons from the sinking of the Big D during the construction of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. It sank when a high wave caused it to go off balance while jacked up out of the water. Perhaps we will need 6 legs? Perhaps they need to be able to jack up much higher than we anticipated to date. There will be a “Failure Analysis” of the first barge to sink or capsize, and we need to conduct that failure analysis today, so that any anticipated failures can be avoided? Test in a wave pool, and conduct a rouge wave of 80 feet or more? See what could happen, well before it does. A 35 foot wave in 35 feet of water can cause quite a problem, especially if the jack up barge is only 30 feet above the water level. Yet how possible is such a wave? Should a large mass of water be pushed by a storm into the shallow waters, the rouge wave can develop from that large amount of water being pushed up the underwater shelf onto the shelf that the wind farm is constructed. Thus a tidal wave that can be pretty high.
We will need to have lifeboats that can be deployed from each side of the jack up barge, so that if it tilts this way or that, the lifeboats will not be stuck in their tie downs under water, or at a angle that they can not be lowered into the water without dragging then along the side of the barge that is now lifted out of the water at a strange angle. Perhaps a floating living quarters, so that if the barge sinks, the living quarters will detach and stay afloat? It could be two stories tall, with a water tight bottom floor that is 10′ tall, second floor less weight than the lower level, and I would envision generators or other heavy equipment on the lower level, and rec rooms on the upper level (s). It would be attached to the top level of the jack up barge, but be releasable from it, should something happen. Perhaps on one corner, opposite the crane?
“We need to KNOW the MINIMUM amount of electricity that would ALWAYS be available from these sources…”
What makes you think that it’s not known?
“…before we fully commit to them.”
We don’t need to commit fully to any single form of energy production, and different forms of production complement each other. Storage of electricity will also play a growing role. The EU recently made a decision to advance usage of hydrogen for energy storage. Hydrogen will also be used for other purposes, for example steel manufacturing, making usage of coal for that purpose obsolete. Hydrogen will be produced with renewable energy (today it’s produced mainly with fossil fuels. You also don’t have to produce electricity where it’s consumed. With very high voltage transmission lines you can cost transmit electricity from where there’s an abundance of it to somewhere where more is needed. If China can build a 1500 mile, 1,100 kV, 12 GW transmission line, I think we can build what we need to satisfy our needs.
Willard T. Sudduth says
We need to KNOW the MINIMUM amount of electricity that would ALWAYS be available from these sources before we fully commit to them.