Offshore Wind Power Could Meet United States’ Electricity Demand

With 28 states in the continental U.S. bordering bodies of water, developing offshore wind resources is a promising option in clean energy.

| April 8, 2009

Offshore wind turbine

An offshore wind turbine in the Thames estuary off the east coast of England. Tapping offshore wind energy in shallow waters along U.S. coasts could generate 263.8 gigawatts of wind power, a new report says.


Excellent wind resources off the coast of the lower 48 states could generate enough power to exceed the electricity demand in the United States, according to U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

The NREL findings are included in a report released April 2 by the U.S. Department of the Interior, which is examining the potential for energy production on the outer continental shelf. The report notes that 28 of the lower 48 states have a coastal boundary (including the Great Lakes), and offshore wind turbines located in shallow waters (defined as less than 30 meters) could meet at least 20 percent of the electricity needs of nearly all those coastal states.

According to the NREL data, 263.8 gigawatts of wind power could be located in shallow offshore waters, while another 1,729.3 gigawatts of wind power could be located in deeper waters, where it is not currently feasible to harness the wind energy.

The Department of the Interior is currently holding a round of public meetings to examine the best way to develop the country’s offshore energy resources, including oil and natural gas.

Meanwhile, a new contender has entered the race to develop the first offshore wind power facility in the United States. Delsea Energy is planning to install 100 wind turbines or more in the shallow waters of the upper Delaware Bay, off the coast of New Jersey.

The company announced March 23 that it has filed initial permit applications with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to install four data collection and monitoring stations in the Delaware Bay. If the results of that data collection project are positive, the company proposes to build a wind facility between one and two miles offshore. The company estimates that the wind project could generate enough power to supply 125,000 New Jersey households.

7/19/2009 7:17:55 PM

As far as cost to maintain,I cannot see several 1.25 MW wind generators costing any more or less than it does to keep a seagoing ship afloat for 50 years,which is normally done these days.Most generators must be installed above the 125 foot high water mark and are monopole towers fastened either on bouys or solid into the sea floor.Most generators go still and sideways above 100 mph they are generating otherwise.As far as NIMBY they are placed past the horizon line (10 miles) so one does'nt see them unless they are out there.Yes,we use a lot of power,far more than we need to,its the most reliable power source on earth,but hard to know how to use it wisely.There are going to be *many* power sources,the idea is not to pump it out of the ground.Whats in the ground should stay in the ground,we have all around us enough energy naturally existing that can be readily utilized and actually easier to generate than the way we do it now.And,its all renewable.1/4 of the power we use now I think is dayum good,nothing to denegrate.We should be jumping on it,electric power whether we like it or not is going to replace IC engines as it should.As I have said many times internal combustion engines are 12-20% efficient in power conversion(with the 20% going to diesel engines),they are plain awful efficiency-wise and either need to be reengineered or replaced.They have gone as far as their engineering will let it.

7/18/2009 11:18:44 AM

Only an idiot would believe those numbers. They are in the business of propaganda in favor of whatever the administration orders. Wind turbines on average produce less than 20% of their maximum capacity. Wind power costs more per kilowatt than conventional sources. It is a welfare program for General Electric, who has a major stake in wind and control over major media outlets to push their interests. Wind projects all over the country are producing far less than promised. There are health issues from being close to them that can't be ignored. There are environmental questions to be answered. Wind is dynamic atmospheric energy. Removing it from the atmosphere and abating wind MUST have an impact. We will be hearing more about this as time goes by. Corporations with profits at stake are pushing wind power as if it is without negatives. This is absurd and it will soon be obvious.

4/22/2009 11:38:17 AM

Wind turbines in Nantucket sound where Ted kennedy sails his boat? I don't thinks so. In a word NIMBY! I would love to put a small turbine or two on top of my house. My housing association says no. NIMBY must die!

royce vines
4/18/2009 7:07:13 PM

If you wish to learn why the bureaucrats and politicians ignore tidal power infavour of wind etc., follow the money. Royce

royce vines
4/18/2009 7:03:59 PM

No matter what method(s) of generation is used, an adequate "baseload" supply is required. This rules out wind and solar power generation. Tidal power is a possible alternative, if the technology was funded. The Integral Fast Reactor can allegedly use existing radioactive waste, including Depleted Uranium, as fuel. This ensures the availability of fuel for 200 years or so even if IFR's supply the world's needs. This project (Argonne) was killed off by Clinton as a sop to the geenie fellow travellers and the anti nuc lobby. I believe it's development was nearly complete. RRV

4/18/2009 5:04:24 PM

continuation of my comment: Any wind towers and turbines in the ocean are going to have to be able to resist the high-corrosive sea air, not to mention the violent fury of frequent big storms (hurricanes, even). Does anyone have any idea of how *expensive* it would be build that many offshore wind turbine towers (not to mention the horrendous on-going maintenance costs in that corrosive environment)? How about the repair/replacement cost every time there's a big storm? I think it is a foolish idea. Yes, there is tremendous energy in the ocean, but a far better way to harness it has already been developed, is proven and available right now. But tragically (for us), the company with the Right Technology can't get enough private or government investment money to deploy it because all anyone wants to talk about and fund right now is wind, solar and nuclear. Check out the real way to tap ocean power at: It's a damn shame the Obama Administration has decided it is not interested in funding this technology. It could provide a huge chunk of the "baseload" eclectic power we need safely. Instead they are going to build 100 new nuclear power plants to provide the baseload.

4/18/2009 5:00:59 PM

Since electricity is heat, consumption of it is most often quoted in BTUs (but that isn't much help is it, since power plants are always quoted in their gigawatt capacity). You'd think the statistic you asked for would be quickly available on a Google search, but I actually had to spend 20 minutes chasing it down. Anyway, turns out I should have gone straight to the EIA, the government energy statistic site in the first place: Net generating capacity for the summer of 2007 was 995 gigawatts and for the winter it was 1,031 gigawatts -- with plans already approved to add 20 gigawatts more to the national grid in 2008. The source url is: By comparison, Hoover Dam, the world's 35th-largest hydroelectric generating station, generates a bit over 2 (only two) gigawatts! We in the U.S. use a whole lot of electricity -- far more than we really need to and far more than other countries in the world do (even those in Europe). We waste a lot of electricity and we should all be ashamed of ourselves. So in this announcement, we can see the wind power industry is exaggerating its capabilities as usual. 263.8 gigawatts of electricity (if we tapped all the shallow-water wind capacity) would only account for 25% of U.S. consumption -- not enough power to "exceed the electricity demand in the United States" as the article states (to do that we'd have to tap most of the deep water capacity as well and the article states that is not currently possible). Does anyone have any idea of how *expensive* it would be build that many offshore wind turbine towers (not to mention the horrendous on-going maintenance costs in that corrosive salt-water environment)? Any wind towers and turbines in the ocean are going to have to be able to resist the high-corrosive sea air, not to mention the violent fury of frequent big storms (hurricanes, even). Does anyone have any idea of how *expensive* it would

4/17/2009 8:00:08 PM

so what percentage of USA electrical consumption is 263.8 gigawatts?

dairy goat


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