Offshore Winds Enough to Power Georgia

For Immediate Release

Offshore wind power could be the power source for Georgia’s clean energy future.   Winds blowing off the Georgia coast could provide enough electricity each year to power the state at current energy use levels, according to a report released today by Environment Georgia.  If Georgia converted all activities currently powered by gasoline, natural gas and other fossil fuels (like transportation and home heating) to electricity, the energy provided by offshore wind turbines could still produce 70 percent of the power needed to run the entire state.

“We’re facing rising seas, intensifying storms, and old and new health threats -- because we’ve relied so long on dirty energy sources,” said Jennette Gayer, of Environment Georgia. “But sitting right here next to us is the Atlantic Coast, and it’s a massive source of totally clean power.   Let’s just say ‘thank you, Mother Nature,’ and do what we should have done in the first place -- harness the wind.”

While offshore wind is a proven technology overseas, it has been slow to take off in the United States. To date, only one wind farm is operating in the U.S., off the coast of Rhode Island. Meanwhile, Europe hosts 4,100 offshore wind turbines that supply enough electricity to power more than 20 million homes each day. But more American offshore wind is on the horizon: There are now 13 leased offshore wind projects moving forward in the U.S., which could provide enough electricity to power approximately 5.2 million homes.

“U.S. deployment of offshore wind is no longer out of reach – it is a reality that continues to gain momentum all along the Atlantic Coast,” said Mary Hallisey the Senior Director of Planning and Operations with Georgia Tech’s Strategic Energy Institute. “Coastal waters along the southeastern states hold great potential for offshore wind and we should take advantage of the opportunity to move forward with this clean energy option.”

Advances in technology and declining costs, coupled with growing concern about the environmental impacts of fossil fuels, has contributed to the recent momentum.

  • The turbines at the nation’s first offshore wind project in Rhode Island produce 30 times more electricity each year than the first offshore wind turbines installed in Denmark in the early 1990s.  
  • According to the asset management firm Lazard, the overall cost of new offshore wind has declined by 25% in the last 5 years. Estimates by Bloomberg New Energy Finance predict the cost will decline by an additional 71 percent by 2040. [1]

“This is not your father’s offshore wind,” said Gayer. “With improved technology and declining costs, harnessing the abundant, pollution-free energy off our coasts makes more sense than ever.”

Energy from offshore wind presents a special opportunity for Georgia and other Atlantic states. The Atlantic Coast, with its shallow waters and millions of people living close to shore, is especially well-suited for wind power. And, because there are no fuel costs, offshore wind power pays for itself in the long term. But, a strong commitment from state policy-makers is critical, because adopting this clean energy source will require significant upfront investment in manufacturing and erecting the wind turbines and laying transmission lines. Recognizing this, governors and other state officials in New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Maryland, and Connecticut have established ambitious but feasible targets. If these cumulative targets are met, offshore wind will provide enough electricity to power 3 million homes.

"Atlantic coastal states use more than a quarter of the nation’s energy,” said Gideon Weissman of Frontier Group, report co-author. "Offshore wind is the ideal resource for these states -- it’s clean, it’s renewable, and it’s conveniently located near our biggest cities.” 

“We’re beginning to see signs of a race to the top on offshore wind, as states adopt increasingly bigger targets,” said Gayer. “We need Governor Deal and other state leaders to make a commitment to offshore wind power so that Georgia doesn’t fall behind.

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[1] Bloomberg New Energy Finance, New Energy Outlook 2017, accessed 20 February 2018, archived at http://web.archive.org/web/20180220172310/https://about.bnef.com/new-ene....