Could offshore wind power be America’s future power supply?

Weather

FILE – In this Aug. 15, 2016 file photo, three of Deepwater Wind’s five turbines stand in the water off Block Island, R.I, the nation’s first offshore wind farm. An offshore wind project off the island of Martha’s Vineyard, off the Massachusetts coast, that would create 800 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 400,000 homes, was approved by the federal government Tuesday, May 11, 2021. The Vineyard Wind project, south of Martha’s Vineyard near Cape Cod, would be the first utility-scale wind power development in federal waters. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer, File)

(KXAN) — For several decades, while countries like the U.K. and The Netherlands have been expanding their energy portfolio, the U.S. has been lagging behind.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is calling for action now to slow human-induced climate change, according to its latest update. The IPCC recommends switching our energy from fossil fuels to clean renewables.

As of today, the only commercial offshore wind farm in the U.S. is Block Island off the coast of Rhode Island. This is where five wind turbines produce about 30 megawatts of energy capacity. This pales in comparison to the Hornsea wind farm in the North Sea where 174 turbines have about a 1.2 gigawatt energy capacity.

So clearly, there’s room for improvement for us in the United States.

While it seems like not a lot of progress has been made, appearance is only one side of the coin. One key step occurred during the George W. Bush administration when Congress passed the Energy Policy Act of 2005.

According to triplepundit.com, the new law established the Outer Continental Shelf Renewable Energy Program, which laid the groundwork for coordinating the lease of federal offshore areas. The Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) finalized the leasing process in 2009.

Politics may have played a role in getting a lot of projects off the ground. But as of the beginning of this year, 17 different offshore wind farms in the Atlantic coast pipeline, totaling 1,500 wind turbines.

Any renewable energy will help in the fight against climate change, but these new winds farms will have something that previous ones don’t. Today’s wind turbines are more powerful and efficient than the technology of just a few years ago, helping to drive down the cost of offshore wind power. Streamlined construction methods and a maturing supply chain also put today’s offshore wind projects a cost advantage over those built in earlier years.

Simply Blue, an investment group from Ireland is looking at the U.S. potential for offshore wind energy production. The firm already has a pipeline of 9 gigawatts in floating offshore turbine projects under its belt. Now it is eyeing the U.S. floating offshore wind market, which it calculates at 30 gigawatts.

The biggest area for offshore wind potential is the West Coast, with eyes also on parts of the Atlantic Coast and The Great Lakes. With a majority of Americans living in coastal communities where land is limited for solar and wind production, but not when you build offshore.

TriplePundit.com reports that with today’s technology, some 2,000 gigawatts of energy are within reach, which is twice the current usage by the U.S. meaning there is ample room for electrifying vehicles, buildings, and factories.

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