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Top 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Offshore Wind Energy

May 6, 2014 - 2:28pm


Watch the 2014 update to our Energy 101: Wind video, now highlighting opportunities to develop offshore wind in the U.S.

The latest blog in our Top Things You Didn’t Know About… series is brought to you by the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. Be sure to check back for more entries soon.

10. Offshore Wind Resources Are Abundant: Offshore wind has the potential to deliver large amounts of clean, renewable energy to fulfill the electrical needs of cities along U.S. coastlines. The Energy Department estimates offshore wind could produce more than the combined generating capacity of all U.S. electric power plants if all of the resources in state and federal waters were developed.

9. Offshore Wind Turbines Can Be Extremely Tall: In order to capture the abundant wind resources available offshore turbine components can be scaled up to reach heights almost twice as tall as the Statue of Liberty -- about 550 feet.

8. Offshore Wind Components Are Easier to Transport: Offshore wind turbine components are transported by ships and barges, reducing logistical challenges that land-based wind components sometimes encounter, such as narrow roadways or tunnels. These components enable offshore wind developers to build larger turbines capable of producing more electricity

7. The U.S. Offshore Wind Industry is Ready for Takeoff: The Energy Department works to accelerate deployment of offshore wind technologies through a series of  projects that reduce market barriers such as environmental impacts, logistical challenges, siting and permitting, and infrastructure development. The Energy Department also works with both the public and private sector to support research and technology innovations that advance the nation’s emerging offshore wind industry. Finally, the Energy Department is also working to demonstrate advanced technologies.

6. Offshore Wind Farms Use Undersea Cables to Transmit Electricity to the Grid: Electricity produced by offshore wind turbines travels back to land through a series of cable systems that are buried in the sea floor. This electricity is channeled through coastal load centers that prioritize where the electricity should go and distributes it into the electrical grid to power our homes, schools and businesses. 

5. Shallow Waters Have Big Potential for Offshore Wind: For example, 43 percent of the offshore wind potential in the Atlantic Ocean is located at depths of less than 100 feet.

4. Even More Offshore Wind Resources Can be Found in Deeper Waters: The bulk of the nation’s offshore wind resources, more than 60 percent, are in areas where the water is so deep that conventional foundations -- large steel piles or lattice structures fixed to the seabed -- are not practical. U.S. offshore wind projects are developing a variety of different foundations suited to unique conditions at each site.

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3. Offshore Wind Turbines Can Float: Several U.S. companies are developing innovative floating offshore wind platforms for use in deep waters. There are three kinds of floating platforms: spar-buoy, tension leg platform, and semi-submersible.


2. Offshore Wind is Right on Time: Offshore winds are typically stronger during the day, allowing for a more stable and efficient production of energy when consumer demand is at its peak. Most land-based wind resources are stronger at night, when electricity demands are lower.

1. Offshore Wind Resources are Near Most Americans: More than 70 percent of the nation’s electricity consumption occurs in the 28 coastal states -- where most Americans live. Offshore wind resources are conveniently located near these coastal populations. Wind turbines off coastlines use shorter transmission lines to connect to the power grid than many common sources of electricity.