Wind Farms Off the Coast of Rhode Island Could Generate 1,000 25 GW of Electricity

“...enough to power most of the U.S.”

This seemed like an outlandish claim, so I dug deep and found the actual map from the study and looked at its assumptions.

The study considered an area of sea that extends 50 nautical miles (92km) out to see - about halfway to the edge of the continental shelf there. Rhode Island, the actual island, is about 5km by 10km, and the state itself goes inland some 50km from the shore.

You can get 1GW from just the green bits on the map below, an area less than 100 square miles. That's quite substantial really. Assuming 90m high turbines. The full 25GW or so comes from developing it all out to the red area where the wind blows the strongest - about 10,000 square miles' worth of sea.

I'm not sure who inflated the study figures. If you add Rhode Island (25GW), Massachusetts (200GW), New Jersey (100GW), New York (147GW), Connecticut (6GW) and Delaware (14GW) you still only get about 500GW. Maine's another 150GW. California's got a good 587GW, and Michigan (ie the great lakes) can get 500GW on its own. North Carolina and Louisiana have a good 300GW each.

I guess what is significant about the area from Pennsylvania to Massachusetts is that there's a high population density there, so it's easier to get it to where it needs to be. Compare that to Hawaii's 637GW of available wind power!

Of course these are probably all peak power figures, etc etc. But the wind is usually blowing somewhere if you've got enough windmills. Between wind, solar and a fleet of car batteries plugged into a smart grid, you've got the kind of reliable electricity referred to in Science Fiction (eg, in Asimov's Empire series, the Earth had stopped using nuclear power because of its dangers, much to the smirk of the Spacers - instead, they used solar power!)
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