Study: Wind Power a Viable Option on East Coast

A grand total of 140,000 wind turbines placed offshore in the Northeast could power one-third of the U.S., according to a recent study by Stanford researchers.

by / September 17, 2012

A new study by Stanford researchers showed there is enough offshore wind along the Maine-to-Virginia corridor to power at least one-third of the country. The region historically has had few hurricanes, making it a favorable location for turbines that could meet peak-time power needs during fall, winter and spring.

"We knew there was a lot of wind out there, but this is the first actual quantification of the total resource and the time of day that the resource peaks," said Mark Z. Jacobson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford who directed the research, reported "This provides practical information to wind farm developers about the best areas to place turbines."

The researchers used a computer model to estimate how placing 140,000 wind turbines at key locations could generate 965 to 1,372 terawatt hours of electricity annually. Most importantly, the wind energy in this location is generated during the peak energy usage times.

"People mistakenly think that wind energy is not useful because output from most land-based turbines peaks in the late evening/early morning, when electricity demand is low," said Mike Dvorak, a recent graduate of Stanford's Atmosphere/Energy Ph.D program who was part of the research team. "The real value of offshore wind energy is that it often peaks when we need the most electricity – during the middle of the day."

Many laud alternative energy sources such as wind power for the decreased reliance on traditional energy sources they allow, as well as the possibility for new jobs. Others cite high startup costs as a disadvantage, as wind turbines, offshore turbines in particular, are generally more expensive to construct than dirtier solutions such as natural gas installations.

To read more about this alternative energy study, visit