There’s Not Enough Wind to Fill the U.S. Renewable Energy Sails

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The U.S. government has begun the process of planning wind energy developments off the southern coast of New York, but if the history of East Coast wind projects is any indication, the effort may face a long fight.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management wants private sector and public input regarding plans for commercial wind energy leases for an area about 11 nautical miles off the southern coast of Long Beach, New York.

While there are no offshore wind farms yet in commercial service in the United States, that may change given recent developments with President Barack Obama’s so-called “all-of-the-above” energy policy.

A 2012 report from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory estimates there may be four times more energy available in offshore wind power than there is currently on the U.S. electric grid. And while wind speeds off the East Coast are lower than those in the Pacific Ocean, the shallow Atlantic waters make it cheaper for developers.

Renewable energy company Deepwater Wind said on May 8 that it’s on pace to launch the nation’s first offshore wind farm after getting the environmental permits necessary to start building its Block Island wind farm off the coast of Rhode Island.

The facility, once it starts working in 2016, will be able to generate 30 megawatts of power at peak capacity. Its five turbines will spin fast enough to meet the annual energy demands of more than 17,000 households, though it has its opponents.