Offshore wind power is poised to deliver an essential contribution to a clean, robust, and diversified U.S. energy portfolio. Capturing and using this large and inexhaustible resource has the potential to mitigate climate change, improve the environment, increase energy security, and stimulate the U.S. economy.
The United States is now deliberating an energy policy that will have a powerful impact on the nation's energy and economic health for decades to come. This report provides a broad understanding of today's wind industry and the offshore resource as well as the associated technology challenges, economics, permitting procedures, and potential risks and benefits. An appreciation for all sides of these issues will help to build an informed national dialog and shape effective national policies.
Chapter 8 - Environmental and Socioeconomic Risks of Offshore Wind Projects
This section looks at the potential risks and uncertainties associated with siting, constructing, and operating offshore wind facilities within a gigawatt-scale deployment strategy. Balancing varied social interests (e.g., lower energy costs, quality of life, energy independence, and reduced power plant emissions and waste streams) with ecological considerations (e.g., habitat health, species and resource protections, and coastal management) will require a careful analysis of competing values to understand and optimize this interplay for the benefit of society. This section summarizes different sectors of risk, based on the available evidence from Europe (see Section 8.5) and building on previous synthesis reports such as Worldwide Synthesis and Analysis of Existing Information Regarding Environmental Effects of Alternative Energy Uses on the Outer Continental Shelf (Michel et al. 2007), the Cape Wind Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS; MMS 2009a), and recent state-funded research. Several analytical constructs and themes frame environmental and social concerns related to offshore wind development.