U.S. offshore areas hold enormous potential for wind energy development near the nation’s highest areas of electricity demand – coastal metropolitan centers, according to Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar.
“More than three-fourths of the nation’s electricity demand comes from coastal states and
the wind potential off the coasts of the lower 48 states actually exceeds our entire U.S. electricity demand,” Salazar told a summit meeting of 25X’25 America’s Energy Future, a group working to lower America’s carbon emissions. Secretary Salazar's comments at the summit can be viewed here.
Interior, which managers of one-fifth of the nation’s land mass and 1.7 billion acres of ocean off the U.S. coasts, will have a major role in creating the nation’s clean-energy future, Salazar said. The Department’s Bureau of Land Management has identified about 20.6 million acres of public land with wind energy potential in the 11 western states and 29.5 million acres with solar energy potential in the six southwestern states. There are also over 140 million acres of public land in the western states and Alaska with geothermal resource potential.
There is also significant wind and wave potential in U.S. offshore waters. The National Renewable Energy Lab has identified more than 1,000 gigawatts of wind potential off the Atlantic coast, and more than 900 gigawatts of wind potential off the Pacific Coast. The Lab estimates that the class 5 wind potential off the coasts of the lower 48 states exceeds the entire U.S. electricity demand. Currently, there are more than 2,000 megawatts of offshore wind projects proposed in the United States.