5 Alternative Energy Plays to Watch
Updated: Mar 5, 2019
By David Fessler
Energy and Infrastructure Strategist
2018 will likely be remembered as the tipping point for the U.S. offshore wind industry.
Just eight years ago, there were few plans to develop offshore wind power here in the U.S. This was puzzling, since Europe was already well into the development of its wind farms.
But what a difference a few years made…
Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Virginia, New Jersey and other states made major strides and commitments regarding offshore wind power in 2018. Together, the U.S. offshore wind project pipeline is on a path to 10 gigawatts (GW) by 2030.
The East Coast of the U.S. is ideal for offshore wind, as the continental shelf is relatively shallow.
But the West Coast is starting to jump on the offshore wind bandwagon too.
Both coasts have the potential to generate more than 2,000 GW of wind power. That’s almost twice what America is using at any given moment.
Not surprisingly, California has shown interest in offshore wind. A 650 to 1,000 megawatt (MW) project has been proposed off the coast of Morro Bay, California.
But California and the rest of the West Coast states have a problem. They lack much of a continental shelf. In parts of California, the shelf doesn’t extend much beyond half a mile from the coastline.
So offshore wind development in the Pacific would require floating turbine towers. These are anchored – but not fixed – to the ocean bottom. Unfortunately, this technology is still in its infancy in the U.S.
Not so in Europe, where there is already an operating floating wind farm, the 30 MW Hywind farm in Scotland.
Europeans are the leading developers of floating wind tower technology. And I believe they will continue to make rapid progress in this area.
Though the U.S. is making strides in offshore wind technology, its knowledge base is nothing compared with that of Europe, where more and more countries are taking charge of their own energy futures.
Today, Europe has about 16 GW of offshore wind capacity. By 2027, an additional 47 GW will be capturing offshore breezes. MORE