Offshore Wind Resource Potential

Offshore wind is emerging as a promising renewable energy resource for many reasons. The strongest, most consistent winds are offshore and close enough to shore to allow for electricity capture with minimal loss via transmission. Wind as a fuel is both renewable and emission-free. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) estimates that the wind resources along U.S. ocean and Great Lakes coasts are capable of providing 900,000 megawatts (MW) of electricity—almost enough energy to power the entire country (U.S. Ocean Wind Collaborative). provides access to wind potential data sets that can help users select a renewable energy wind resource site in the ocean. So why should planners consider offshore wind resource potential when determining ocean use sites?

  1. Consistent Wind Power is important for area consideration. The National Viewer can be used to investigate suitable locations for offshore wind energy generation. The offshore wind resource potential data set identifies areas of high wind energy that would be ideal wind farm locations. The Marine Cadastre wind resource data set provides estimates of average annual wind speeds at 100 meters above the sea surface, the approximate hub height for offshore wind mills. These values are estimates for planning purposes. Once potential offshore wind sites are identified, developers will install a meteorological tower to verify these estimates by collecting on site measurements.
  2. Suitability analysis with multiple factors. Wind resource potential may seem like the most important data set, but it needs to be considered along with a variety of other data sets when making siting decisions and requesting approval. For example, bathymetry, marine jurisdictions, navigation routes, and existing infrastructure also need to be considered for various reasons. Comparing wind resource potential to other data sets can help identify potential conflicts and alternatives.

Quick Caveats. This data set describes the wind energy potential (wind speeds) at heights of 100 meters above the water, the average height of an offshore wind turbine. After choosing a site, wind speeds need to be measured for verification; wind energy potential will depend on the season and the day due to changes in weather. Read the metadata for more details.

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