EGEB: Offshore wind could meet 90% of US electricity demand

Michelle Lewis

Twenty years ago, the US got around 0.6% of its electricity from wind, solar, and geothermal. Now that percentage currently sits at 11.5%. It needs to grow fast so the US can meet Paris Agreement targets, and the good news is that Environment America Research & Policy Center and Frontier Group think it can.

A new joint report, “Offshore Wind for America: The Promise and Potential of Clean Energy Off Our Coasts,” asserts that offshore wind has the potential to meet 90% of US electricity demand in 2050. The two groups examined US offshore wind potential by coastal region and state, and documented the status of existing projects and technological advances.  

The study found that the Atlantic region has the highest potential to generate offshore wind – if fully developed, four times as much electricity as the region used in 2019 (which, frankly, isn’t much, seeing how the US had only one wind farm, Block Island, off Rhode Island, in 2019). The Gulf of Mexico is second, followed by the Pacific and then the Great Lake regions for potential capacity. But there are a lot of offshore wind farms in the pipeline, and Vineyard Wind off Massachusetts, slated to become the first large-scale offshore wind farm in the US, is headed toward formal authorization by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management under the Biden administration.

So it’s not surprising that of the 29 states examined by the report’s authors, Massachusetts was No. 1 for potential to generate the most offshore wind power. Further, Maine has the highest ratio of potential offshore wind power to its current and future electricity needs. For projections of 2050 electricity demand, the report assumes that US buildings, industry, and transportation will be powered by clean electricity rather than fossil fuels.