3 april 2009

RENEWABLES: Interior secretary says potential for offshore wind power is big

Jessica Leber, E&E reporter,E&E Climate Wire, April 3, 2009)

Offshore wind could vastly boost the nation's power supply, said Interior Secretary Ken Salazar yesterday, releasing a report that also cautions that there are data gaps on the environmental impacts of conventional and renewable energy development.

Shallow-water wind resources, which, of existing technologies, are closest to being commercially and technically feasible, could provide electricity for at least a fifth of the nation's 28 coastal states, the report prepared by the Minerals Management Service and the U.S. Geological Survey says. These states consume 75 percent of U.S. electricity produced.

The total offshore wind potential off the coast of the continental United States, however, is far greater, exceeding the entire country's electricity demand, Salazar said. The Atlantic Coast, with the possibility to send 1,000 gigawatts of wind energy to nearby markets, is the area that is the most promising.

Technologies that harness the power of ocean tides, waves and currents all need further development, especially the latter two, according to the report, which evaluated the supply of offshore renewable and conventional oil and gas resources.

Environmental groups applauded the report, noting that the strong emphasis on renewables in addition to offshore oil and gas was a marked change from the Bush administration's policies.

"The Interior department is actually taking much more seriously than they did in the past the potential for clean renewable energy development offshore," said Mike Gravitz, Environment America's ocean advocate. "It's overdue."

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