A new report by the National Wildlife Federation once again illustrates the potential for wind power off the U.S. east coast. According to the report, “up to six gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind projects have been proposed along the Atlantic coast - the equivalent of about five coal plants and enough to power about 1.5 million average U.S. homes.” Even more impressive, “the Atlantic Ocean has significant offshore wind potential, with over 212 GW of wind resources in shallow waters where current technology is best suited.”
Despite this, however, “984 offshore wind turbines are spinning right now in Europe and not one in the Atlantic.” Obviously, that needs to change – and fast.
Just to illustrate the potential here, the report estimates that one state alone – Virginia - has 26.1 gigawatts (enough to power about 5 million homes) of wind power generation capacity potential in shallow waters off its coast. To put this in perspective, And, unlike the dirty coal that currently dominates Virginia’s power generation mix, wind is clean and doesn't require that's nearly 3 gigawatts (enough to power about 600,000 homes) more electric generating capacity than currently exists in Virginia as a whole! ruining the Appalachian Mountains to produce. And, of course, unlike offshore oil drilling, wind doesn't spill and cause environmental disasters as we saw in the Gulf of Mexico this past summer.
In the end, the National Wildlife Federation report concludes, offshore wind “holds great potential to create jobs, cut pollution, and reduce our reliance on dirty fossil fuels.” To realize these objectives, however, we will need “a coordinated and comprehensive effort of government and the market to bring these and other projects over the finish line in a way that values the precious Atlantic Ocean ecosystem and its fish and wildlife resources.” That’s the challenge that lies ahead, and the one that we must meet if we are to move forward as a nation.