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U.S. fast-tracks east coast wind farms

U.S. fast-tracks east coast wind farms

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The U.S. Department of Energy is accelerating the deployment of offshore windmill farms to generate clean energy off of the Atlantic coast.

"We can win the clean energy race," Energy Secretary Steven Chu said during a press conference today.

Inching toward its goal of generating 80 percent of the nation’s energy from clean technologies by 2035, the Obama administration announced today that it is granting fast-track approval to four wind farm projects located off the Atlantic coast.

They include sites in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey and Virginia. The Department of Energy (DOE) is financing the work with US$50 million over the next five years. The majority of the DOE funds ($25M) money will be allocated toward technology development.

The remainder of the funding will be spread out between removing market barriers and developing a next-generation drivetrain. Leases will be offered to developers as soon as the end of this year. The fast-track program was announced in Nov. 2010.

"Offshore wind energy can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, diversify our energy supply, and stimulate economic revitalization," said Energy Secretary Chu. "The Department of Energy is committed to working with our federal partners to provide national leadership in accelerating offshore wind energy deployment."

The administration's efforts were lauded by VA governor Bob McDonnell (R) who stated that the approval process would enable developers, "to attract the investment necessary to support offshore wind projects."

Meanwhile, wind developers are plotting even more ambitious goals. Deepwater Wind has floated the idea of using 200 interconnected offshore windmills to link the power grids of New England and New York. Some start-ups are even pitching entirely new ideas for windmill designs.

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David Worthington

Contributing Editor

David Worthington has written for BetaNews, eWeek, PC World, Technologizer and ZDNet. Formerly, he was a senior editor at SD Times. He holds a business degree from Temple University. He is based in New York. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure