(Repeats for more readers)
* Eastern states could get half their power from wind
* North Carolina, South Carolina have most potential
By Scott Malone
BOSTON, Sept 28 The densely populated U.S. East
Coast could meet close to half its current electric demand by
relying on offshore wind turbines, a study by an ocean
conservation group found.
North Carolina, South Carolina, New Jersey and Virginia
offer the most potential for easily captured wind energy,
according to the Oceana study, which estimates that the 13
coastal states could together generate 127 gigawatts of power.
That represents the potential for far more wind power than
the United States currently generates. At the end of 2009, the
nation's land-based turbines were capable of producing some
35,000 megawatts of power -- enough to meet the needs of 28
million typical American homes.
Investment in new wind turbines has surged in recent years,
boosting sales at turbine makers including General Electric Co
(GE.N), Vestas Wind Systems A/S (VWS.CO) and Siemens AG
However, all the U.S. wind farms built so far are on land.
Advocates of offshore wind installations, led by backers of the
Cape Wind facility proposed off the Cape Cod beach area in
Massachusetts, have been working for almost a decade to try to
win approval to build offshore turbines.
Opponents of Cape Wind argue that it could harm fisheries
as well as sully views in a region dependent on tourism.
Oceana argues that wind offers an attractive alternative to
offshore oil and natural gas drilling, particularly in the wake
of the April BP Plc (BP.L) rig explosion, which led to an
undersea leak that poured oil and gas into the Gulf of Mexico
for 153 days.
"Our research revealed that harnessing offshore wind power
in Atlantic waters is a much more cost-effective way to
generate energy than oil and gas drilling," said Jacqueline
Savitz, an author of the report.
Oceana argued the electricity generated by wind off the
East Coast would save $36 billion in energy costs over a
20-year period and create 133,000 to 212,000 installation and
maintenance jobs a year. [ID:N27275340]
TENS OF THOUSANDS OF TURBINES
Hitting the 127 gigawatt number could mean installing
30,000 to 50,000 of the spinning turbines along the U.S. East
Coast. That would be the equivalent of more than 200 projects
the size of Cape Wind, which could become the nation's first
That figure assumes current turbines sizes of 2.5 megawatts
to 4 megawatts. But Savitz suggested the estimated figure of
30,000 to 50,000 turbines could well decline as turbine sizes
"If you assume this is all coming into play over 10 or 15
years, these things are expected to get bigger and bigger,"
Oceana's analysis of the East Coast's potential to generate
power from the wind leaves out the New England states of New
Hampshire and Maine, because their shorelines drop away quickly
to deeper waters where it would be more difficult for
developers to install turbines.
That same concern has kept developers away from the West
Cape Wind is not the only wind farm proposed off the
Eastern seaboard. Developers are also working on projects off
Rhode Island, Delaware and New Jersey.
(Reporting by Scott Malone, editing by Matthew Lewis)