According to a recent study from the University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley), the United States possesses one of the world’s largest offshore wind resources. Offshore wind could power 25% of the nation’s buildings.
The report states that the US coastline, including the Great Lakes, presents over 4,000 GW of offshore wind capacity. Harnessing offshore wind can complement solar and onshore wind energy by producing electricity during peak hours and months.
By implementing appropriate policies and support, it’s projected that offshore wind could meet 10–25% of the US’s electricity demands by 2050. This will enable the US to achieve a 95% clean electricity grid without major impacts on wholesale electricity costs.
By 2050, the US is projected to have a population of 458 million people. With an average of 2.55 people per household, this would translate to 179 million households. With these figures, the US could see 45 million homes powered exclusively by offshore wind by 2050.
Due to economic growth, the US’s estimated energy consumption will nearly triple between now and 2050. The US currently consumes 4,000 terawatt-hours (TWh) of electricity, but this is expected to grow to more than 10,700 TWh by 2050.
To meet this escalating demand and achieve its emissions goals, the US will need to install at least 85 GW of onshore wind and solar energy annually between 2035 and 2050. It will also need to install 27 GW of offshore wind annually over the same time period. To provide some context, in 2021, the US only installed 28 GW of wind and solar combined.
In a recent interview with Energy Monitor, Nikit Abhyankar, a senior scientist at UC Berkeley’s Center for Environmental Public Policy, emphasized the potential of offshore wind technology to fulfill America’s electricity needs. Offshore wind should be recognized as a critical resource in achieving the country’s climate goals, working in synergy with onshore renewable resources.
The development of offshore wind presents an opportunity for significant investment in the US economy. A companion report published by Energy Innovation estimates that offshore wind projects could inject up to $1.8 trillion and create around 390,000 job opportunities in the sector by 2050.
Mike O’Boyle, senior director of electricity policy at Energy Innovation, highlighted the technical feasibility of expanding America’s offshore wind sector and reaping the benefits of clean, reliable, and affordable electricity. However, political leadership is necessary to enact the required policies.
Increased investment in US ports, shipbuilding, specialized steel manufacturing, and transmission infrastructure is vital to support the installation of offshore wind energy.
Image Source: Dr Paul Dorfman, https://shorturl.at/bEV19