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Originally published January 2 2011

Offshore wind could generate enough electricity for entire USA four times over

by David Gutierrez, staff writer

(NaturalNews) The United States could meet four times its current energy needs with offshore wind production alone, according to a report issued by the Department of Energy.

"Clean, renewable energy development that capitalizes on the nation's vast offshore wind and water resources holds great promise for our clean energy future and our economy," Energy Secretary Steven Chu said.

According to the report, offshore wind power could meet 20 percent of all U.S. electricity usage by 2030 with proper investment, resulting in lowered levels of air pollution and the creation of 43,000 permanent, high-paying technical jobs.

Although the United States leads the world in land-based wind power production, it has yet to complete any offshore wind projects. Approximately 20 are planned, primarily in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions--but high price tags and public opposition mean these projects are far from a done deal.

"Overall, the opportunities for offshore wind are abundant, yet the barriers and challenges are also significant," reads the Department of Energy report.

The Cape Wind project in Massachusetts is a case in point.

"The problem is that people living at the coast don't want to be able to see the turbines," write David H. Rippe and Jared Rosen in their book The Flip.

"They don't want them ruining their beautiful view of the bay."

Economist Jonathan Haughton works for the Beacon Hill Institute, which has concluded that the Cape Wind project will hurt tourism and property values, and that it will cost too much to build.

"It's easy to get dazzled by the notion that wind has to be cheap, you know, the wind is free," Haughton said. "Wind power that's built out at sea has just the enormously high cost of building the windmills in the first place. It's the capital costs that's the killer compared to onshore wind. If it had to operate on a market basis it simply wouldn't start."

Offshore wind power can cost twice as much to produce as electricity from land-based turbines or from fossil or nuclear fuels.

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