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The U.S. leads all other countries in terms of land-based wind power-generating capacity, but has yet to install any offshore wind, despite the presence of excellent offshore wind resources in four regions – the Great Lakes, the Gulf Coast, the Pacific Northwest, and the East Coast. Europe holds the lead in terms of installed offshore wind capacity and continues to expand, and development interest has spread more recently to Canada and China. Significant progress has been made within the past four years on the regulatory front in the U.S., and leases are now being offered to companies on a competitive basis by the U.S. Department of Interior Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to develop offshore wind. Likewise, offshore wind technologies are advancing in response to support from the U.S. Department of Energy which will ultimately reduce the cost of generating power offshore.

Offshore Wind Resource in Virginia

The waters off the coast of Virginia are particularly attractive for wind power development, given that the winds are known to be strong and steady and that the extended outer continental shelf provides shallow waters (by wind development standards) far out to sea. In the figure below, the areas depicted as lighter and darker magenta are predicted to have average annual wind speeds between 8 and 9 meters per second (m/s) which is considered appropriate for wind power development. Current plans call for more than 1,000 MW of wind power to be installed within the next decade in an area due East of Virginia beach, ranging from 25 to 40 miles off the coast, a distance at which the turbine will not be visible from the coast.

image of offshore wind speed of virginia

Online Viewer for Offshore Data Layers and Wind Map

The Center for Wind Energy has created an interactive map displaying various layers relevant to offshore wind projects.

link to offshore wind map (Best viewed with Google or Mozilla browser.)

The Map and Data Viewer allows users to view important layers that have guided the siting of potential offshore wind sites. Layers include the lease blocks, critical habitat areas, wind speeds, and underwater obstructions, among many others. 

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