Last week, the environmental group Oceana issued a report calling on states along the Atlantic Coast to build offshore wind farms instead of offshore oil rigs.
The report points out that Florida consumes more oil via electricity than any other state. In 2008, the most recent year for which Energy Information Administration data is available, Florida’s petroleum-fired plants produced just over a gigawatt-hour of electricity, nearly 40 percent of the national total.
While its offshore wind potential pales in comparison to that of states like North Carolina, Florida could theoretically install some 10 gigawatts in generation capacity, “enough energy to more than replace petroleum use in Florida’s electric industry,” according to the report.
In total, the report estimates an offshore wind capacity of 127 gigawatts for the states along the Atlantic, minus Maine and New Hampshire, where deep waters complicate wind installations. That could require building some 30,000-50,000 wind turbines, according to Reuters.
The report says it accounts for such barriers as shipping channels and environmentally sensitive areas of the sea floor, where wind turbines cannot be safely installed, but offshore wind projects in Florida would likely face a different kind of barrier: opposition from a tourism industry wary of placing windmills in view of beaches.