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News Release NR-3510

NREL Releases Estimate of National Offshore Wind Energy Potential

September 10, 2010

The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) announces the release of a new report that assesses the electricity generating potential of offshore wind resources in the United States.

 According to the Assessment of Offshore Wind Energy Resources for the United States, 4,150 gigawatts of potential wind turbine nameplate capacity (maximum turbine capacity) from offshore wind resources are available in the United States. The estimate does not describe actual planned offshore wind development, and the report does not consider that some offshore areas may be excluded from energy development on the basis of environmental, human use, or technical considerations. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, in 2008 the nation’s total electric generating capacity from all sources was 1,010 gigawatts.

 The report’s estimate is based on the latest high-resolution maps predicting annual average wind speeds, and shows the gross energy potential of offshore wind resources. The potential electric generating capacity was calculated from the total offshore area within 50 nautical miles of shore, in areas where average annual wind speeds are at least 7 meters per second (approximately 16 miles per hour) at a height of 90 meters (295 feet). For purposes of this study, it was assumed that 5 megawatts of wind turbines could be placed in every square kilometer of water that met these wind characteristics.  Detailed resource maps and tables for 26 coastal states’ (ocean and Great Lakes) offshore wind resources break down the wind energy potential by wind speed, water depth, and distance from shore.

 NREL is the U.S. Department of Energy's primary national laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development. NREL is operated for DOE by The Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC.



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