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US Offshore Wind Energy Potential Is Staggering

The Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation recently wrote a piece highlighting the potential for offshore wind development in the US, specifically, in the midwest: The simple message? “The potential for offshore wind power generation in the U.S. is staggering.”

And the figures presented in the opening paragraph back this up: The US has a projected 4,223 GW worth of offshore wind generating potential — with 50 GW from the Ohio waters of Lake Erie alone.

The Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation was founded in 2009 to initially build wind turbines in Lake Erie, before desiring to turn its attention towards stimulating “an entire offshore freshwater wind industry.” And they make a strong case: As they write, “offshore wind offers a viable, untapped opportunity for large-scale clean energy projects that produce zero emissions in operation, consume no water, and displace the generation from some of our nation’s dirtiest power plants.”

But as Lake Erie notes, “the U.S. lags woefully behind the rest of the world in offshore wind power generation.”

One need only cast their eyes over the last few months of offshore wind energy news here at CleanTechnica, to see how thoroughly Europe figures in the industry. Danish juggernaut DONG Energy alone claims to have built more offshore wind farms than any other company worldwide, and a quick look at its installations show these clumped heavily in the west of Europe.

Lake Erie claims that Europe has at least 80 offshore projects in operation or under construction, compared to the US, where “offshore wind development is in its infant stages”.

Freshwater offshore wind is an interesting proposition, however, and compared to Europe’s primarily sea-based offshore development, America has a number of potential sites almost-purpose built for freshwater offshore wind.


The map shows the selected locations for the six turbines of the Icebreaker project.
Image Credit: via Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation

Enter Lake Erie’s ‘Icebreaker’ demonstration project. Consisting of six wind turbines off the coast of Cleveland, Icebreaker will help the company begin what it hopes is a large offshore wind industry in Ohio and the Great Lakes region.

Impressively, the Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation (LEEDCo) isn’t looking overseas for manufacturing components.

“Our options were to either look to Europe and hire suppliers that had the specific manufacturing capabilities, or go the local route and identify those manufacturers with similar capabilities, then hone those capabilities to meet our offshore standards and requirements,” said Eric Ritter, LEEDCo communications and strategy manager.

As such, LEEDCo is building its own US supply chain.

For the full story of what the Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation is doing, head on over to Wind Power Engineering.

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