According to researchers at the University of Delaware (UD) and Stanford University, the wind resource off the Mid-Atlantic coast could supply the energy needs of nine states – from Massachusetts to North Carolina, plus the District of Columbia – with enough left over to support a 50% increase in future energy demand.
Through a study supported by the Delaware Green Energy Fund, UD's College of Marine and Earth Studies, the Delaware Sea Grant College Program and the Global Climate and Energy Project at Stanford, scientists determined that the aquatic region from Cape Cod, Mass., to Cape Hatteras, N.C., could produce 330 GW of average electrical power if thousands of wind turbines were installed off the coast.
Anemometer readings from nine National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather buoys in the Middle Atlantic Bight were analyzed. To determine the average wind over the region, the researchers reviewed all the wind-speed data from the past 21 years from one of the buoys. The findings were then extrapolated to the height of the offshore wind turbines currently being manufactured to determine the average power output per unit. At the current 80-meter wind turbine, the wind speed of the mid-range buoy is 8.2 meters per second.
The scientists' estimate of the full-resource, average wind power output of 330 GW over the Middle Atlantic Bight is based on the installation of 166,720 wind turbines, each generating up to 5 MW of power. The wind turbines would be located at varying distances from shore, out to 100 meters of water depth, over an ocean area spanning more than 50,000 square miles.
The study also defined exclusion zones where wind turbines could not be installed, such as major bird flyways, shipping lanes, chemical disposal sites, military restricted areas, borrow sites where sediments are removed for beach renourishment projects, and visual space from major tourist beaches.