Wind Program funds research nationwide to develop and deploy offshore wind technologies that can capture wind resources off the coasts of the United States and convert that wind into electricity. The program is leading a portfolio of market analysis, technology development, and demonstration projects that will overcome key barriers to offshore wind development, including the relatively high cost of energy, the mitigation of environmental impacts, the technical challenges of project installation, and grid interconnection.
Offshore wind resources are abundant, stronger, and blow more consistently than land-based wind resources. Data on the technical resource potential suggest more than 4,000 gigawatts (GW) could be accessed in state and federal waters along the coasts of the United States and the Great Lakes. While not all of this resource potential will realistically be developed, the magnitude (approximately four times the combined generating capacity of all U.S. electric power plants) represents a substantial opportunity to generate electricity near coastal high-density population centers. The Energy Department’s two highly-instrumented Wind Sentinel wind resource characterization buoys provide long-term offshore wind profile data that will support research needed to accelerate the utilization of offshore wind energy in the United States.
The Wind Program is working with the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to advance a national strategy to create an offshore wind industry in the United States. As part of that strategy, the Department of Energy has allocated over $200 million since 2011 for competitively-selected offshore wind research, development, and demonstration projects. This funding is focused in three areas: technology development, market acceleration, and advanced technology demonstration.