The U.S. could generate 20 percent of its electricity from wind energy by 2030 if it develops offshore wind farms in the coastal waters of 26 states, according to a report by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL). Developing the nation’s offshore wind potential would also create $200 billion in “new economic activity” and 43,000 jobs, according to the report. While the U.S. currently leads the world in installed land-based wind capacity, the nation has no major offshore wind farms.
Last week, however, U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar signed a 28-year offshore lease for the nation’s first offshore wind project off the coast of Cape Cod, Mass., which would produce an average of 182 megawatts. State and federal officials are now considering other major offshore wind farm proposals. The Department of Energy report said that if offshore wind farms are densely developed along the U.S. coastline, such installations could theoretically provide four times the electricity capacity that now exists in the U.S.