US government pledges $50.5 million offshore wind funding

UNITED STATES: The US Department of Energy has pledged up to $50.5 million in funding for offshore wind energy development projects.

US interior secretary Ken Salazar

The funding is intended to help develop offshore technology and overcome market barriers to installing offshore wind projects.

The move follows President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address, in which he announced a goal of sourcing 80% of US electricity needs from clean sources by 2030.

Up to $25 million over five years will be provided for technology development and up to $18 million over three years for research into removing market barriers.

Also, up to $7.5 million over three years will be available for the development of "next-generation" designs for wind turbine drivetrains.

The funding is part of a strategic plan to encourage offshore wind unveiled by interior secretary Ken Salazar and energy secretary Steven Chu.

It also identifies four high priority wind energy areas in the mid-Atlantic, on the outer continental shelf off the coast of Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey and Virginia.

The interior department expects to identify areas off north Atlantic states including Massachusetts and Rhode Island in March. A similar process for North Carolina and the south Atlantic region will take place this spring.

In June, Salazar and ten East Coast states created the Atlantic Offshore Wind Energy Consortium, a group dedicated to promoting the development of wind energy on the US outer continental shelf.

The group comprises Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island and Virginia.