The U.S. Department of Energy's Wind Energy Technologies Office (WETO) funds research nationwide to enable the development and deployment of offshore wind technologies that can capture wind resources off the coasts of the United States and convert that wind into electricity. This robust portfolio of research, development, and demonstration projects will help the industry overcome key barriers to offshore wind development, including the relatively high cost of energy, the mitigation of environmental impacts, the technical challenges of project installation, and grid interconnection.
Offshore wind resources are abundant, strong, and consistent. Data on the technical resource potential suggest there are more than 4,000 gigawatts (GW) of capacity, or 13,500 terawatt hours (TWh) of generation, per year in federal waters of the United States and the Great Lakes. While not all of this resource potential will realistically be developed, the magnitude—approximately 3 times the annual electricity consumption in the United States—represents a substantial opportunity to generate electricity near coastal, high-density population centers.
The federal government has an ambitious goal of deploying 30 gigawatts of new offshore wind energy by 2030, which would support 77,000 jobs, power 10 million homes, and cut 78 million metric tons in carbon emissions. Since 2011, WETO has been working with the Department of the Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to advance a national strategy to facilitate the development of an offshore wind industry in the United States. As part of that strategy, the Department of Energy has allocated over $300 million for competitively-selected offshore wind research, development, and demonstration projects.
Since 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy launched an advanced wind energy technology demonstration program to help address key challenges associated with installing full-scale offshore wind turbines in U.S. waters, connecting offshore turbines to the power grid, and navigating new permitting and approval processes.
The Floating Offshore Wind Shot is an initiative to help usher in a clean energy future by driving U.S. leadership in floating offshore wind design, development, and manufacturing. It is part of DOE’s Energy Earthshots Initiative to tackle key remaining technical challenges to reaching U.S. climate goals while creating jobs and economic opportunities for U.S. communities.
WETO invests in research to accelerate the sustainable development of offshore wind energy. This includes the deployment of offshore wind power and its integration into the nation's grid. This work can include facilitating the sharing of ocean space with other uses, limiting impacts on the offshore environment, and ensuring the feasibility of wind plant construction by studying the nation's available ports, vessels, and supply chain infrastructure.
WETO is supporting a $41 million national offshore wind R&D consortium to address near-term needs for the development of the U.S. offshore wind industry through wind plant technology advancement, wind resource and physical site characterization, and installation, operations and maintenance, and supply chain technology solutions. In 2018, DOE competitively selected the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority as administrator of the consortium.
On January 12, 2022, DOE released Offshore Wind Energy Strategies, a report that outlines regional and national strategies to accelerate U.S. offshore wind deployment and operation. The report summarizes the current status of offshore wind in the United States, describes challenges to accelerating its deployment, and identifies strategies to secure United States global leadership in the industry.
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory led the 30 GW by 2030: A Supply Chain Road Map for Offshore Wind in the United States project to create a road map that identifies challenges and solutions to developing a nationally focused offshore wind energy supply chain that has the potential to manufacture all major components domestically by 2030.
On March 29, 2023, DOE released Advancing Offshore Wind Energy in the United States, U.S. Department of Energy Strategic Contributions Toward 30 Gigawatts and Beyond, a comprehensive summary of DOE’s role in the nationwide effort to deploy 30 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind energy by 2030 and to set the nation on a pathway to 110 GW or more by 2050.
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