09_30_2015_Bobby_Magill_CC_Offshore_Wind_720_478_s_c1_c_cScientists from the University of Delaware have concluded that a vibrant, large offshore wind industry is even farther from reality than it was a decade ago.

In part, this is because the United States’ federal government has not made alternative energy a priority. The researchers say that through the offshore wind leasing program, the focus changed to wind development as a way to foster economic development and job growth instead of renewable energy’s ability to mitigate climate change.

In a paper for the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, they explain that this focus has resulted in lots of little small projects instead

Europe, who began developing wind energy around the same time the US did, already has 2,300 offshore wind turbines. The US, on the other hand, lags behind even though there is potentially 4,000 GW of energy in the fifty-mile-wide section of land along both coasts.

The first offshore project, known as the Block Island Wind Farm, is currently under construction in Rhode Island, so the country is slowing getting there. The US Department of Energy has also released a report revealing that several companies have already obtained the right to build thirteen wind farms using the offshore wind leasing program. That would 3,000 GW of electricity, and it could happen as early as 2020.

In fact, the report says that there are actually 15,650 MW worth of wind projects in the works right now. That would be a game changer. It is doubtful that a fossil fuel replacement even that large would be able to make an impact on climate change, but it would solidify the wind industry as a reliable source of abundant amounts of electricity. Its influence will also inspire and serve as an example for other projects, so over time its effects could actually impact climate change.

The report from Energy Department, however, did not comment on whether the wind industry’s power is less than what it could be, like the University of Delaware study did.

Image (c) Statkraft/Flickr

 

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