Over the past decade, the United States has fallen behind in the international race to adopt wind energy via the building of offshore wind farms. While efforts in Europe increase, the same efforts in the United States have slowed thanks to, not surprisingly, limited financial support from the government, largely as a result of lower energy prices and the expense of inputting new technology.
This week, though, the US has committed to making better efforts. On Friday, the US Departments of Energy and the Interior released a combined report discussing a major strategic plan to develop a new national offshore wind industry. The report boasts, of course, that wind is a renewable energy source with the capacity to generate roughly twice the current electricity needs of America.
Accordingly, US Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz comments, “Make no bones about it. We are very serious about advancing offshore wind as a major component of our clean energy future.” On Friday, Moniz met for a news conference which took place inside a warehouse for testing wind technology testing.
“[The National Offshore Wind Energy Strategy] shows our commitment in building this in a very substantial way here in the Northeast, in California, Hawaii, and the Great Lakes,” he said.
Lisa Linowes is the executive director of Wind Action, which is a New Hampshire-based action group that “counters” information from the “wind energy industry and various environmental groups.” While she advocates for this effort and remains hopeful in the development of the emerging American offshore wind industry she also advises that the costs are still too high.
A major goal of the Department of Energy is, indeed, to implement the National Offshore Wind Energy Strategy, which aims to lower the cost of offshore wind energy by funding more innovation and better technologies in order to make wind energy a more accessible and desirable alternative to traditional energy sources. In addition the US Department of the Interior plans new improvements for regulating this development and construction of offshore wind farms.
In combination, then, the agencies hope to reach the Department of Energy’s goal of wind power occupying 20 percent of the nation’s electrical output by 2030. In 2015, wind energy only supplied 4.7 percent of the all electricity generated in the United States.
Secretary Moniz reminds that “Not long ago [rooftop solar] was $10 per watt. Today, it’s a bit below $4 per watt. Out of those savings, $2 to $3 is technology. The rest is soft costs.” So, obviously, anything is possible; still, the offshore wind industry is going to take more time to develop.