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Offshore Wind Energy Poised to Play a Vital Role in Future U.S. Energy Markets

October 27, 2010

Golden, Colorado, Oct. 2010 - The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has released a new report that analyzes the current state of the offshore wind energy industry, provides  a broad understanding of the offshore wind resource, and details the associated technology challenges, economics, permitting procedures, and potential risks and benefits of developing this clean, domestic, renewable resource.

According to the report, Large-Scale Offshore Wind Power in the United States, developing the offshore wind resource along U.S. coastlines and in the Great Lakes would help the nation:

·         Achieve 20% of its electricity from wind by 2030 – Offshore wind could supply 54 gigawatts (GW) of wind capacity to the nation’s electrical grid, increasing energy security, reducing air and water pollution, and stimulating the domestic economy.

·         Provide clean power to its coastal demand centers – Wind power emits no carbon dioxide (CO2) and there are plentiful winds off the coasts of 26 tates, where power demand is steadily growing, electric rates are high, and space for land-based generation and transmission facilities is limited.

·         Revitalize its manufacturing sector – Building 54 GW of offshore wind energy facilities would generate an estimated $200 billion in new economic activity, and create more than 43,000 permanent, well-paid technical jobs in manufacturing, construction, engineering, operations and maintenance.

About 20 offshore wind projects, representing more than 2 GW of capacity, are in the planning and permitting process in the United States. On Oct 6, 2010, the U.S. Department of Interior signed the first commercial offshore wind farm lease to the Cape Wind project off the coast of Massachusetts.

NREL’s report concludes that although the development of nation’s offshore wind resources can provide many potential benefits, the industry faces significant challenges, but with effective research, policies, and commitment, offshore wind energy can play a vital role in future U.S. energy markets.

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.