Offshore wind energy is set to increase in the U.S. states located in the country's east coast with massive lease sales and public and private projects, the U.S.-based research organization, the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) said on Wednesday.
The auction of three lease areas offshore the U.S. state of Massachusetts yielded a record of $405 million in winning bids in December, which the IEFFA said in a statement would signal a profound transformation in how U.S. offshore wind generation potential is now perceived.
"While U.S. offshore wind remains a mostly untapped resource, that looks like it will be changing soon," it added.
Construction is scheduled to begin this year in the state of Massachusetts on a 160,000-acre (647.5 square kilometers), 800-megawatt (MW) project called Vineyard Wind, according to the institute.
The state of New Jersey announced on Dec. 31 that it attracted three bids for developing offshore tracts that would provide 1,110 MW of capacity, which is part of a larger program to build 3,500 MW over the next decade that is enough to power 1 to 2 million homes, the IEFFA said.
In the state of Virginia, American electricity retailer Dominion Energy has partnered with Danish wind development giant Orsted to build a 12 MW pilot project off the coast of Virginia Beach that is worth $300 million, it added.
"As the feasibility of offshore wind becomes apparent, governments in states that can benefit are noticing, and the competition is heating up to lure offshore construction companies, turbine manufacturers and a host of support industries," the statement said.
According to a joint report published in September 2016 by the U.S. Department of Energy and the Interior Department, U.S. offshore wind has a technical resource potential of more than 2,000 gigawatts (GW) of capacity, or 7,200 terawatt-hours (TWh) of generation per year.
"For context, this is nearly double the nation’s current electricity use. For comparison, approximately 90,000 homes can be powered by 1 TWh per year," the report said.
"This means that even if only 1 percent of the technical potential is recovered, nearly 6.5 million homes could be powered by offshore wind energy," it added.
By Ovunc Kutlu