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September 24, 2013

The Promising Future of Offshore Wind Power


Oceana is a proud event partner of the American Wind Energy Association’s (AWEA) Offshore WindPower Conference and Exhibition, which will take place on October 22-23 at the Rhode Island Convention Center in Providence, Rhode Island. I will be attending the conference, along with our very own Matt Huelsenbeck, to raise the profile of Oceana’s work in promoting offshore wind development and to learn about the latest developments in the industry.

Oceana is a strong advocate for making offshore wind power a reality for many reasons:

  • Because we have seen the damage offshore drilling and burning fossil fuels can do to the health of the oceans and marine life, and we must find a better way to satisfy our energy needs.
  • Because offshore wind turbines harness a clean and infinite source of energy, while eliminating the risk of deadly oil spills and creating three times as many jobs as the oil industry.
  • Because we believe the environmentally safe and responsible development of offshore wind is one of the best chances we have to end our country’s addiction to fossil fuels and finally stop the dangerous practice of oil and gas drilling in our oceans.
  • Because we believe that, if sited correctly, offshore wind could be the ocean-based part of the solution to climate change and its “evil twin,” ocean acidification.

At the AWEA Offshore WindPower Conference next month, there will be many panels and discussions covering different aspects of the current state of offshore wind energy. Some of these include how the work of the major government agencies overseeing offshore wind development may change now that there are new Secretaries of the Interior and Energy, the strong economic and environmental benefits of offshore wind energy, and the next generation of technological advances for the offshore wind industry. 

This conference comes at a very exciting time for offshore wind:

  • After years of legal battles, the famous Cape Wind project is in the financing phase with construction slated to begin by the end of the year.
  • At the end of July, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management held the first-ever competitive offshore wind lease sale in the U.S. The two areas off the coasts of Rhode Island and Massachusetts have the potential to create enough electricity to power more than 1 million homes.
  • Just this month, another wind lease sale auction was held for an area off the Virginia coast that, once built, is estimated to provide power to another 700,000 homes.
  • Three more lease auctions are expected to be held off the coasts of Maryland, Massachusetts and New Jersey in the next year.
  • Exciting new technologies to facilitate floating wind deployment are quickly emerging, bringing floating wind projects to Maine and the West coast sooner than we once thought.

The Department of Energy (DOE) estimates that the U.S. has more than 4,000 GW of offshore wind potential – that’s enough to power the U.S. four times over!  The DOE also estimates that a U.S. offshore wind industry that takes advantage of this abundant domestic resource could support up to 200,000 manufacturing, construction, operation and supply chain jobs across the country and drive over $70 billion in annual investments by 2030.

As I said, it’s an exciting time in the world of offshore wind – and we’re thrilled to be a part of the action and partner with AWEA for this year’s Offshore WindPower Conference!

Nancy Sopko is an Ocean Advocate at Oceana.