Washington The federal government on Tuesday issued its first exploratory leases for wind energy projects on the Outer Continental Shelf, the first step of what could be a race to harness the powerful Atlantic winds not far from major population centers on the East Coast.
The leases will allow wind companies to build testing stations on federal land off the New Jersey and Delaware coasts. Research has shown that the Northeast has relatively shallow water and few strong hurricanes, which make it a good candidate for offshore wind technology.
The U.S. so far produces no electricity from offshore winds, putting it far behind northern European countries that have been developing offshore wind for nearly 20 years.
“We are entering a new day for energy production in the United States — a time of clean energy from renewable domestic sources on our Outer Continental Shelf,” Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar said in a statement.
“Other nations have been using offshore wind energy for more than a decade,” Salazar said. “We made the development of offshore wind energy a top priority for Interior. The technology is proven, effective and available and can create new jobs for Americans while reducing our expensive and dangerous dependence on foreign oil.”
Britain, Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden are the world’s largest producers of electricity from offshore winds.