When I flew into Copenhagen in 2007, the jet passed over a gleaming array of white wind turbines arranged in a necklace in the city’s harbor. Since then, Denmark’s offshore wind farm building boom has continued. Last December, for instance, wind farms supplied more half the country’s electricity demand.
In England, the London Array went online in 2012, its 175 turbines generating 630 megawatts of electricity from the Thames Estuary.
The United States, on the other, is generating not a watt from commercial offshore wind farms, despite 80 percent of its electricity demand coming from coastal states, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. In fact, the offshore wind capacity of the country has been estimated at 4 million megawatts, or four times the entire generating capacity of existing U.S. power plants.
The nation’s first offshore project, Cape Wind, has been mired in litigation and bureaucratic red tape since 2001. Just on Friday, a federal judge dismissed the latest legal challenge to the 468-megawatt wind farm that would be built in Nantucket Sound off Cape Cod, Massachusetts.
The Energy Department took a small step on Wednesday, however, to spur offshore wind, awarding $47 million for three experimental projects to test new technology to take advantage of the strong winds that blow in coastal waters.