- Up and down the Atlantic
coast, states and offshore wind developers are making significant progress in advancing offshore projects according to a new report. The report finds that up to six gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind projects have been proposed along the Atlantic coast - the equivalent of about five coal-fired power plants and enough to power about 1.5 million average U.S. homes. Based on government analysis, the Atlantic Ocean has significant offshore wind potential, with more than 212 GW of wind resources in shallow waters where current technology is best suited.
In New York, the report finds a total 37.4 GW of wind potential in shallow water, 15 GW of which are commercially viable when environmental and socioeconomic factors are taken into account. The report includes a chart for each state's offshore wind resource, breaking down the data by water depth and distance offshore.
Featured in the report, the Long Island-NYC Offshore Wind Project is expected to solicit bids from private developers early next year. Transmission and environmental studies are being conducted, and the New York Power Authority has authorized the application for the lease of 64,500 acres of land beneath the Atlantic Ocean for development of the project in June 2010. When completed, the project's initial generation capacity will be 350 megawatts (MW), enough power to supply 78,750 to 105,000 homes. Long Island-NYC Offshore Wind Project has the potential for expansion up to 700 MW.
Despite a great deal of capacity, the Long Island-NYC Offshore Wind Project is the only project of its kind advancing in New York State.
"Nine hundred and eighty four offshore wind turbines are spinning right now in Europe and not one in the Atlantic," said Curtis Fisher, Offshore Wind Initiative Leader at the National Wildlife Federation. "The six gigawatts of proposed Atlantic offshore wind projects are a great start, but we need a coordinated and comprehensive effort of government and the market to bring these and other projects over the finish line in a way that values the precious Atlantic Ocean ecosystem and its fish and wildlife resources. This new industry holds great potential to create jobs, cut pollution, and reduce our reliance on dirty fossil
The report, Offshore Wind in the Atlantic: Growing Momentum for Jobs, Energy Independence, Clean Air, and Wildlife Protection, makes the following key findings:
• Every state with significant offshore wind resources from Maine to Georgia has some taken some steps forward on offshore wind. Northern states (Maine to Maryland) have the most advanced projects while Southern states (Virginia to Georgia) are quickly mobilizing on a series of projects.
• The Atlantic's shallow water characteristics combined with excellent wind speed make it an ideal location for offshore wind farms. 93 percent of offshore wind projects worldwide are in shallow waters (zero to 30 meters deep). Close to half of the United States' shallow water offshore wind is along the Atlantic coast.
• While the most extensive European study concluded that offshore wind farms do not appear to have long-term or large-scale ecological impacts, major data gaps for the Atlantic Ocean still exist and site-specific impacts need to be evaluated. A coordinated, comprehensive, and well-funded effort is needed to address these gaps and improve the permitting process.
"The Long Island Power Authority
is encouraged by the preliminary analysis of the LI-NYC Offshore Wind Farm which demonstrates that a 350-700MW offshore wind project located 13-17 miles off the Rockaway Peninsula is technically feasible to integrate into our electric system," said Michael Hervey, Chief Operating Officer. "We remain committed to not only continue with the next phase of the process, but also to bring this wind project to fruition provided it is cost effective for our customers. To address these cost issues, we need all interest groups to show their steadfast support for common sense clean energy policies that create jobs across the region and this commendable report by the National Wildlife Federation lays some of the groundwork to enable these types of projects to move forward."
The report was released along the coast in conjunction with many national and state partners including environmental, sportsmen, labor, and business organizations. These groups call on the federal government to take the following steps:
• Improve the offshore wind permitting process.
• Identify ideal, high priority sites with limited resource conflicts off of the Atlantic for quick and thorough permitting.
• Invest in and speed research of offshore wind technology and environmental impacts.
• Coordinate planning with existing infrastructure and industries such as ports and fishing.
National and regional cosponsors include: Utility Workers Union of America, Environment America, National Audubon, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, Conservation Law Foundation, and the Chesapeake Climate Action Network.
The National Wildlife Federation is America's largest conservation organization inspiring Americans to protect wildlife for our children's future.