Cape Wind, the first offshore wind project in the U.S., has languished in regulatory limbo for a decade—and construction still hasn't begun. That's not an encouraging track record for offshore wind developers. The Department of Energy hopes to change it, however, with the National Offshore Wind Strategy: Creating an Offshore Wind Industry in the United States, a $50.5 million, five-year comprehensive plan (PDF) to turn the U.S. into an offshore wind powerhouse. The goal is to develop 54 gigawatts of offshore wind generating capacity by 2030 at a cost of seven cents per kilowatt hour. That's just a few cents more expensive than many fossil fuel-based sources.
The DOE's plan consists of three steps: technology development ($25 million to build better wind turbine design tools and hardware), removing market barriers ($18 million to find the factors limiting offshore wind deployment), and building next generation drivetrains ($7.5 million to make more advanced wind turbine drivetrains).
The U.S. may actually start building offshore wind farms, too. As part of the offshore plan, the DOE identified spots in four states for expedited wind power approval. Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, and Virginia—all states with over a hundred nautical miles for development—will get early environmental reviews to ease the regulatory process. If all goes well, the DOE expects to give leases to energy developers by the end of the year.
The National Offshore Wind Strategy is the latest in the DOE's plan to supercharge American renewable energy capacity. Last week, the DOE announced the SunShot initiative, a $27 million program to make solar energy as cheap as fossil fuel-generated energy by 2020.