Offshore Wind Research and Development

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The U.S. Department of Energy's Wind Energy Technologies Office (WETO) funds research nationwide to enable the development and deployment 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, stronger, and blow more consistently than land-based wind resources. Data on the technical resource potential suggest more than 2,000 gigawatts (GW) could be accessed in state and federal waters along the coasts of the United States and the Great Lakes. While not all of this resource potential will realistically be developed, the magnitude (approximately two times the combined generating capacity of all U.S. electric power plants) represents a substantial opportunity to generate electricity near coastal high-density population centers. The Energy Department’s two highly instrumented WindSentinel wind resource characterization buoys provide offshore wind profile data that will support research needed to accelerate the utilization of offshore wind energy in the United States.

WETO has been working with the Department of the Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management since 2011 to advance a national strategy to create and facilitate the development of an offshore wind industry in the United States. As part of that strategy, the Department of Energy has allocated about $200 million since 2011 for competitively-selected offshore wind research, development, and demonstration projects. This funding is focused in three areas: technology developmentmarket acceleration, and advanced technology demonstration.

Read more about offshore wind research and development: Technology Development | Market AccelerationDemonstration 

With greater potential for corrosion from exposure to seawater, offshore wind systems must be designed more robustly (i.e., requiring less maintenance) than land-based wind systems due to the high costs of transporting maintenance crews and replacement components to and from offshore wind plant sites. The Office’s technology development projects are partnerships with industry and national laboratories intended to produce innovative components, controls, and integrated system designs, as well as improved modeling and analysis tools, which will improve the performance and reliability and reduce the costs of offshore wind systems.

More than 58 percent of the U.S. offshore wind resource is located in areas with deep water, where the water is so deep that conventional foundations—large steel piles or lattice structures fixed to the seabed—are not practical. To account for this unique U.S. condition, U.S. companies are developing innovative floating offshore wind platforms for use in deep waters: spar-buoy, tension leg platform, and semi-submersible.

The Office invests in research to understand and mitigate market barriers that limit the deployment of offshore wind in the nation's coastal regions. These barriers include those related to integrating offshore wind energy into existing grid infrastructure, limiting the extent to which offshore wind turbines interact with avian and aquatic life in the offshore environment, and ensuring that the construction of wind power is feasible through the study of our nation's available ports, vessels, and supply chain infrastructure.

Since 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy has supported a portfolio of advanced wind energy technology demonstration projects that represent some of the nation's most innovative offshore wind projects in state and federal waters. These demonstrations are among the first of their kind making their way through permitting, approval, and grid interconnection processes in the United States. The demonstrations will help address key challenges associated with installing full-scale offshore wind turbines, connecting offshore turbines to the power grid, and navigating new permitting and approval processes.

America's First Offshore Wind Farm

America's First Offshore Wind Farm

Offshore Wind News

Department of Energy Announces $18.5 Million for Offshore Wind Research
NYSERDA selected to partner with DOE as administrator of offshore wind R&D consortium.
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U.S. Department of Energy and Geological Survey Release Online Public Dataset and Viewer of U.S. Wind Turbine Locations and Characteristics
The USGS and DOE released the United States Wind Turbine Database and Viewer to access this new public dataset.
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Wind Turbines in Extreme Weather: Solutions for Hurricane Resiliency
Offshore wind turbines on the Atlantic coast (as well as the Gulf Mexico) have several challenges to contend with—including hurricanes.
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U.S. Conditions Drive Innovation in Offshore Wind Foundations
This blog is part of a series that explores offshore wind technical challenges that are different in the U.S. than in other countries.
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Floating Wind Power is Becoming a Reality
This blog is part of a series that explores offshore wind technical challenges that are different in the United States than in other countries.
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Wind Energy Continues Rapid Growth
The United States wind industry added more than 8,200 MW of capacity and supported more than 101,000 jobs in 2016.
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NREL Paves the Way for Floating Offshore Wind Semisubmersible Model Validation
NREL researchers have been leading an international effort to validate offshore wind models.
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ThermalTracker: The Secret Lives of Bats and Birds Revealed
When planning offshore wind projects, collecting data on the abundance of birds and bats informs project siting.
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A Renewable Future for the Oil and Gas Industry
As oil and gas companies look to unconventional energy markets, right now is an ideal time for oil and gas companies to engage in with offshore wind.
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Offshore Floating Vertical-Axis Wind Turbine Project Identifies Promising Platform Design
A new floating, vertical-axis wind turbine platform design may enable offshore wind developers to access the vast U.S. offshore wind resources.
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Offshore Wind Featured Publications

Estimating the Value of Offshore Wind Along the United States' Eastern Coast
This study finds that the "market value" of offshore wind generally exceeds that of land-based wind in the U.S. east coast region.
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Offshore Wind Energy Resource Assessment for Alaska
This report quantifies Alaska's unique offshore wind resource capacity.
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2016 Offshore Wind Technologies Market Report
This report provides quantitative information about the offshore wind market, technology, and cost trends in the United States.
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National Offshore Wind Strategy: Facilitating the Development of the Offshore Wind Industry in the United States
Offshore wind energy holds the promise of significant environmental and economic benefits for the United States.
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Offshore Wind Initiatives at the U.S. Department of Energy
EERE released a new National Offshore Wind Strategy jointly with the U.S. Department of the Interior in 2016.
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Offshore Wind Jobs and Economic Development Impacts in the United States: Four Regional Scenarios

This report uses the offshore wind Jobs and Economic Development Impacts (JEDI) model and provides four case studies of potential offshore wind...

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