Why Offshore Wind Energy Is a No-Brainer Compared to Offshore Oil Drilling

Juxtapose the cape offshore wind energy project with the Gulf oil spill and you’ll see why wind may be the answer to our energy consumption problems.

  • Offshore wind energy potential
    This chart shows the exciting potential of offshore wind energy.
  • U.S. oil production
    Offshore oil production now comprises about a third of the U.S. total.
  • Offshore wind farm
    U.S. wind energy potential for offshore resources alone is four times our current electricity use.

  • Offshore wind energy potential
  • U.S. oil production
  • Offshore wind farm

The enormously devastating oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is just one reminder that stretching out an addiction to a polluting and planet-warming fossil fuel poses risks to our health, our environment and our economy.

U.S. oil production peaked in 1970 at 9.6 million barrels per day. Since then production has dropped by almost half and now supplies less than 30 percent of domestic consumption. In 2009, the United States spent nearly $200 billion on oil imports to make up the difference.

With oil wells on land getting tapped out, U.S. oil production would have fallen off even more precipitously than it did if not for offshore oil drilling. Offshore oil production now comprises about a third of the U.S. total. Yet remaining resources are limited and are becoming increasingly difficult to obtain. As BP’s inability to staunch the Deepwater Horizon oil spill starkly illustrates, controlling extraction from almost a mile below the sea surface is incredibly difficult and dangerous.

The era of “easy” oil is over. As Fatih Birol, chief economist of the International Energy Agency, recommends for the world, “We should not cling to crude down to the last drop — we should leave oil before it leaves us.”

Fortunately there are alternatives. Much of the U.S. oil consumption of nearly 20 million barrels a day goes to run vehicles, the same vehicles that get city commuters stuck in traffic for a cumulative 4.2 billion hours a year, costing society some $87 billion, according to the Texas Transportation Institute. To cut dependence on oil, transportation options can be expanded beyond single-passenger vehicles to bus rapid transit, light rail, high speed rail, and space for bicycles and pedestrians.

Even though the U.S automobile fleet shrank by four million vehicles last year, cars will not disappear completely anytime soon. However, the fleet can be cleaned up by marrying the electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles now starting to come to market to renewably produced electricity. The U.S. Pacific Northwest National Laboratory estimates that the current electrical infrastructure could power over 80 percent of the U.S. car fleet, relying largely on off-peak electricity as cars are charged at night. Upgrading to a stronger, smarter, and interconnected national grid that taps into the country’s enormous wind, solar and geothermal resources completes the transition.

joe z
4/11/2012 5:35:41 PM

To bad Scotland doesn't brag. Considering by 2020 they will be getting 100% of the energy fron alternatives and most of that from wind. They are now have over 80%.

6/14/2010 4:36:20 PM

As an oilfield worker who knew one of the 11 wrokers who died on the TransOcean rig, and who has worked offshore himself on one of the 3,000+ rigs in the western Gulf of Mexico, one catastrophic blowout caused by human error and shortcuts in the drilling procedures by BP, TransOcean, and Halliburton, most of the problems of working in 5,000+ feet of water can be avoided if the Fed opened up more of the land under their control in the continental U.S, Alaska, nat'l forests, nat'l rec areas, and nat'l wilderness areas where safeguards can be put in place to guarantee what is happening in the Mexican Gulf doesn't happen elsewhere. Despite your desires to the otherwise, our nation, industrial base, ability to feed ourselves & the world, and our economy runs on fossil fuels (petroleum, nat-gas, coal). Solar, wind, geothermal, wave action, nuke power can lessen dependency on domestic and foreign fossil fuels but with the thousands of products derived from this resource, those other energy resources cannot sustain us. Believing it does is a misnomer disconnect with reality..!!

5/17/2010 1:56:59 PM

Have you ever heard of an off shore wind generator pumping billions of gallons of crude oil into any waterway?



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