On Monday February 7, 2011, the DOE issued an ambitious plan to spur development of offshore wind facilities in federal and state waters off the eastern seaboard. The report identifies the key challenges to widespread development are reducing both the cost and the timeline of project development. It estimates that the current cost of offshore facilities must be cut by more than half from the current installed capital cost of $4,250 per kW in order to achieve the report’s goal of 54 GW of offshore power by 2030.

In an effort to drive this massive effort forward, the DOE offers $50.5 million in grants for the development of tools and hardware in wind turbine factories, market studies and research on electrical infrastructure and funding for research into next-generation wind-turbine drive trains. Perhaps more importantly, the report designates four “Wind Energy Areas” for expedited approval evaluation and possible lease offerings by the end of 2011 or in early 2012. The report promises that this “Smart from the Start” program will accelerate the leasing process by cutting the current approval timeline of 7 to 10 year in half.

Most notably, the National Offshore Wind Strategy presents the eastern United States with tremendous potential to generate significant economic activity through the installation of facilities that will produce clean, renewable energy. The industry will benefit from the program outlined in this report, particularly if it is followed by an extension of tax credits applicable to these types of renewable energy projects.

Click here for the complete National Offshore Wind Strategy: Creating an Offshore Wind Industry in the United States.

Click here for more information on the Smart from the Start Initiative.

Click here for a map of the mid-Atlantic WEA’s.

More information is available at: http://www.boemre.gov/offshore/RenewableEnergy/index.htm andwww.windandwater.energy.gov.