Sheila McNulty US catches up on offshore wind

The US may be the world’s biggest generator of wind energy, but offshore it is nowhere near the head of the pack. Indeed, Ken Salazar, US Secretary of the Interior, notes that other nations have been using offshore wind energy for more than a decade.

It was not until the Obama Administration made renewables a priority that the likelihood of offshore wind in the US began to take shape.

And now, just two months after clarifying jurisdictional reponsibilities for leasing and licensing renewable energy projects (arguments over jurisdiction had prevented any movement), the Obama Administration announced five exploratory leases for offshore wind energy development off the coasts of New Jersey and Delaware. Secretary Salazar called it it a new day for energy production in the US:

The technology is proven, effective and available and can create new jobs for Americans while reducing our expensive and dangerous dependence on foreign oil.

These first ever such leases issued by the federal government went to Bluewater Wind New Jersey Energy, Fishermen’s Energy of New Jersey, two to Deepwater Wind and one to Bluewater Wind Delaware. The leases authorise data gathering activities, allowing for the construction of meterological towers from six to 18 miles offshore to collect site-specficic data on wind speed, intensity and direction.

The government has started the ball rolling; it is up to the wind now whether any offshore wind energy turbines get built. Well, actually the wind and the stimulus dollars the industry is counting on to help get projects off the ground.