REPORT: Offshore Wind is Next Clean Energy Wave for Georgia

Media Contacts

Environment Georgia

Savannah, GA (December 1, 2010) – Up and down the Atlantic coast, states and offshore wind developers are making significant progress in advancing offshore projects according to a new report. The report finds that up to six gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind projects have been proposed along the Atlantic coast – the equivalent of about five coal-fired power plants and enough to power about 1.5 million average U.S. homes. Based on government analysis, the Atlantic Ocean has significant offshore wind potential, with over 212 GW of wind resources in shallow waters where current technology is best suited.

Here in Georgia, the report finds a total 60 GW of wind energy potential in shallow water, over 19 GW of which are commercially viable when environmental and socioeconomic factors are taken into account. The report includes a chart for each state’s offshore wind resource, breaking down the data by water depth and distance offshore.

“984 offshore wind turbines are spinning right now in Europe and not one in the Atlantic,” said Curtis Fisher, Offshore Wind Initiative Leader at the National Wildlife Federation,. “The six gigawatts of proposed Atlantic offshore wind projects are a great start, but we need a coordinated and comprehensive effort of government and the market to bring these and other projects over the finish line in a way that values the precious Atlantic Ocean ecosystem and its fish and wildlife resources. This new industry holds great potential to create jobs, cut pollution, and reduce our reliance on dirty fossil fuels.”

“Georgia needs off-shore wind,” explained Jennette Gayer, Policy Advocate with Environment Georgia. “We can generate electricity, create jobs AND avoid the environmental and economic disaster that we saw after the recent Gulf oil spill”

The report, Offshore Wind in the Atlantic: Growing Momentum for Jobs, Energy Independence, Clean Air, and Wildlife Protection, makes the following key findings:

  • Every state with significant offshore wind resources from Maine to Georgia has taken steps forward on offshore wind. Northern states (Maine to Maryland) have the most advanced projects while Southern states (Virginia to Georgia) are quickly mobilizing on a series of projects. See detailed chart and state profiles.
  • The Atlantic’s shallow water characteristics combined with excellent wind speed make it an ideal location for offshore wind farms. 93 percent of offshore wind projects worldwide are in shallow waters (zero to 30 meters deep). Close to half of the United States’ shallow water offshore wind is along the Atlantic coast.
  • While the most extensive European study concluded that offshore wind farms do not appear to have long-term or large-scale ecological impacts, major data gaps for the Atlantic Ocean still exist and site-specific impacts need to be evaluated. A coordinated, comprehensive, and well-funded effort is needed to address these gaps and improve the permitting process.

The Georgia Institute of Technology has played a key role in researching the potential for wind energy in Georgia and  Mary Hallisey Hunt of Tech’s Strategic Energy Institute has been engaged  in offshore wind related activities nationally and the state level.

 “Many independent and regionally diverse studies have shown that offshore wind resources along the Atlantic coast can contribute significantly to a new U.S. clean energy economy,” explains Ms. Hunt. “With offshore wind, the U.S. has a real opportunity to develop a stable and productive energy market sector that could provide economic benefits for many years to come.”

“Georgia’s offshore wind energy resource can revive the state’s manufacturing sector with high quality, high paying, clean energy jobs,” said Rita Kilpatrick, Georgia Policy Director for the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.

The report was released along the coast today in conjunction with many national and state partners including environmental, sportsmen, labor, and business organizations. These groups call on the federal government to take the following steps:

  • Improve the offshore wind permitting process,
  • Identify ideal, high priority sites with limited resource conflicts off of the Atlantic for quick and thorough permitting,
  • Invest in and speed research of offshore wind technology and environmental impacts,
  • Coordinate planning with existing infrastructure and industries such as ports and fishing.