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US launches multi-million $ plan to kick start offshore wind industry

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The new strategy from the Obama administration could challenge the UK’s place as world’s leading offshore wind energy hub.

The US government unveiled yesterday a coordinated strategic plan to accelerate the development of offshore wind energy in a move that could ultimately challenge the UK's position as the world's leading offshore wind hub. Interior secretary Ken Salazar and energy secretary Steven Chu yesterday announced the Obama administration will award over $50.5m (£31.3m) to support a new research and development programme designed to lower the cost of offshore wind energy.

Interior secretary Ken Salazar also announced the selection of four designated 'wind energy areas' off the mid-Atlantic coast, which will benefit from fast-tracked environmental assessments designed to accelerate leasing and approval processes for proposed offshore wind farms. The identified areas are located on the Outer Continental Shelf off the coast of Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey and Virginia. The Department is also planning to select further wind energy areas off the coast of a number of North Atlantic states next month, including Massachusetts and Rhode Island, and launch a similar process for North Carolina this spring.

The strategic plan sets a target to deploy 10 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind capacity by 2020. Capacity would then increase to 54GW by 2030, forming a vital part of president Obama's wider goal to supply 80% of US electricity from clean energy sources by 2035.

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