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“Smart from the Start” Initiative Adds to Growing Momentum for Offshore Wind Power Development

2 min. read

On Monday, the U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Department of Interior announced “a coordinated strategic plan to accelerate the development of offshore wind energy… including new funding opportunities for up to $50.5 million for projects that support offshore wind energy deployment and several high priority Wind Energy Areas in the mid-Atlantic.”

According to the press release:

Deployment of clean, renewable offshore wind energy will help meet the President's goal of generating 80 percent of the Nation's electricity from clean energy sources by 2035.

"The mid-Atlantic Wind Energy Areas are a key part of our 'Smart from the Start' program for expediting appropriate commercial-scale wind energy development in America's waters," Secretary Salazar said. "Through the Strategic Work Plan, the United States is synchronizing new research and development initiatives with more efficient, forward-thinking planning so that we can help quickly stand up an American offshore wind industry.   This initiative will spur the type of innovation that will help us create new jobs, build a clean energy future, and compete and win in the technologies of the 21st century."

"Offshore wind energy can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, diversify our energy supply, and stimulate economic revitalization," said Secretary Chu. "The Department of Energy is committed to working with our federal partners to provide national leadership in accelerating offshore wind energy deployment."

This is great news, especially considering all the other positive developments related to offshore wind power that we’ve seen in recent months. For instance, back in November 2010, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar launched his ‘Smart from the Start’ Atlantic OCS Offshore Wind Initiative, aiming to “speed up development of wind energy by searching the Atlantic Coast for the most desirable places to build windmills rather than wait for developers to propose sites that could hurt the environment or sit in the middle of a shipping lane.” Also in November 2010, Massachusetts approved a purchase agreement for half the power produced by the $2.5 billion Cape Wind project. And in October 2010, Google announced plans to invest $5 billion in a “transmission backbone for future offshore wind farms.”

Given all this, and with estimates of potential power generation capacity ranging as high as 1,000 gigawatts from the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf alone – the equivalent of powering 800 million homes – these developments indicate that momentum for offshore wind power development in the United States is growing rapidly.  In turn, that momentum should be highly encouraging to the huge majority of Americans who support renewable energy development.