Wind on the WaterBy Maggie Wirtanen
Offshore wind is so powerful that it has caught the eye of the U.S. Department of Energy. The truth is that offshore wind is a natural resource that can be captured, harnessed and used as an energy source just like overland wind. Turbines installed in strategic locations along the country’s coasts and in the Great Lake region could convert wind into electricity and put yet another option on the country’s renewable resource palette. But the U.S. has been comparatively slow in developing this resource. European countries, for example, have been taking advantage of offshore wind energy for more than two decades. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management reports that the first European offshore wind project was installed off the coast of Denmark in 1991, while the U.S. only just recently secured funding for its first wind farm in Nantucket Sound as of March 2013.
So why the push? Could it be to help meet President Obama’s goal to have 80 percent of U.S. electricity produced from clean energy by 2035? Or to help expand renewable energy resources in the nation’s coastal regions where 53 percent of the country’s population lives and land-based renewable energy resources can be hard to develop? How about to create a source of energy that could produce four times the amount of all U.S. electric power plants?
In light of these possibilities, the DOE awarded nearly $170 million to help research and plan for seven potential offshore projects in December 2012. The idea is to have at least three operating as early as 2017, reports the DOE. The engineers and technicians working on these and other types of clean energy projects need specific skills and may bring a variety of backgrounds and training to these efforts. In fact, the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education notes that a range of degrees focused on sustainability are available. Does offshore wind energy intrigue you? Take a look at our infographic below to explore more about the topic and the affiliated occupations projected to have strong growth in the U.S. between 2010-2020.
For a complete list of sources, please view the infographic
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