Offshore Wind

The United States does not currently have any offshore wind projects in place, but approximately 5,000 megawatts (MW) are proposed in the oceans and in the Great Lakes.  Nearly 78 percent of the U.S. population lives in the 28 coastal states, so the proximity to this demand makes offshore wind an excellent option for these states.  With the sea breeze effect, in which the winds over the ocean blow during the daytime, offshore wind can line up with daytime peak electricity demands.  The U.S. can learn from the European experience of installing over 2900 MW of offshore wind in the last 20 years.  In February 2011, the Department of Energy and the Department of the Interior announced a National Offshore Wind Strategy, which is designed to support offshore wind deployment of 10 gigawatts (GW) by 2020 and 54 GW by 2030.  Of that 54 GW, 10 GW is projected to be offshore from North Carolina.

North Carolina has exceptional offshore wind resources – in fact, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory estimates show that N.C.’s offshore wind potential is higher than any other East Coast state.  North Carolina is moving forward with efforts to bring offshore wind to the state through the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s North Carolina Offshore Renewable Energy Task Force.  The Task Force consists of state, federal, local and tribal government representatives coordinating efforts to facilitate commercial leasing for renewable energy on the Outer Continental Shelf offshore from North Carolina.  Three meetings of the Task Force have taken place in 2011 to identify suitable lease sites and efforts are underway to prepare a Call for Interest for selected leasing sites.

National Renewable Energy Laboratory: NC offshore wind resource map at 90 meters height

National Renewable Energy Laboratory: NC offshore wind resource map at 90 meters height


Learn More

European Wind Energy Association EWEA Data Sheet Offshore Wind Energy

DOI and DOE National Offshore Wind Strategy

National Renewable Energy Laboratory – Assessment of offshore wind energy resources for the United States, June 2010

Bureau of Ocean Energy Management State Activities