Many in the U.S. are interested in the development of offshore wind energy to contribute to our overall energy needs in the coming years. Offshore wind turbines are being used in a number of countries worldwide to harness wind energy over the oceans and convert it to electricity. Offshore winds tend to flow at higher speeds than onshore winds, thus allowing turbines to produce more electricity.
However, placing these facilities sites in suitable locations is complex and involves the consideration of many factors. Most current wind energy systems are located in relatively shallow waters free of numerous restrictions. Plus, there are additional factors that influence the potential suitability for offshore wind energy.
Thoughtful evaluation of these requirements is based on a community approach because the necessary information comes from a number of organizations. The data behind these evaluations and plans includes the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) calculating offshore wind velocities for a large portion of the U.S. coasts. Data from MarineCadastre.gov can be used to "erase" areas that should be restricted for critical reasons include military operations, shipping, hazardous waste disposal, and critical environmental areas. And so on.