Wind power is steadily growing in the U.S. According to the American Wind Association, electrical generation from wind has more than quadrupled in the last six years. By the end of last year, the installed capacity of U.S. wind farms stood at 11,600 megawatts, enough to serve about 3 million homes. More than 3,000 megawatts of new generating capacity will be installed by the end of 2007. But the industry remains landlocked in the U.S. with no utility-scale offshore projects. This lone turbine stands at the waters edge in the town of Hull, MA.

If Jim Gordon can somehow complete his project, the Cape Wind Project would be located on Hoarseshoe Shoal in Nantucket Sound.

Most of the world's offshore wind industry is located in Europe. The Nysted Offshore wind farm is the largest one currently in operation with 72 turbines and capacity of 165 megawatts.

Bigger projects are on the drawing board. One of the largest is the 1,000 megawatt London Array project, a proposal for 341 turbines in the Thames Estuary off the United Kingdom.

Offshore wind is gaining in other parts of the world with major projects underway in China, Canada, and Brazil. China, for example, plans to make offshore wind a key part of its long-term strategy and produce 16 percent of its energy from renewables by 2020.

In the U.S., several projects other than Cape Wind are under development. The Long Island Offshore Wind Park would have 40 turbines capable of producing 140 megawatts of power, or enough electricity to serve approximately 44,000 homes.

If offshore wind is ever to realize its vast potential, it will require developing new technology to bring larger turbines to deeper water. Two 5 megawatt turbines -- among the largest operation -- are being installed in the world's first deepwater wind farm, the Beatrice Wind Farm demonstration project off the coast of Scotland.

One analysis by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory estimated offshore wind potential of the lower 48 states at 1,000 gigawatts ? more power than the U.S. currently consumes. The trick is reaping this harvest. Only 10 percent of the proposed sites lie in waters of 30 meters; the remaining 90 percent will require its such as floating platforms, tripods, or poles with guy wires. The wind industry is looking to borrow from the experience of the oil and gas industry, yet deep water technology may not be cost effective for years or even decades.

Tilting at Windmills: The Unfulfilled Promise of Offshore Wind in the U.S.

Wind power is steadily growing in the U.S. According to the American Wind Association, electrical generation from wind has more than quadrupled in the last six years. By the end of last year, the installed capacity of U.S. wind farms stood at 11,600 megawatts, enough to serve about 3 million homes. More than 3,000 megawatts of new generating capacity will be installed by the end of 2007. But the industry remains landlocked in the U.S. with no utility-scale offshore projects. This lone turbine stands at the waters edge in the town of Hull, MA.

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