Maine Won’t Wait’s goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions – 45 percent by 2030 and 80 percent by 2050 – and transition to 100 percent renewable energy by 2050 is fast approaching. Energy generation across the state is changing rapidly as older technologies are decommissioned and more renewable technologies expand their generation capacity. What better time than now to discuss offshore wind amidst all this change?

Offshore wind

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory estimates that the technical resource potential of U.S. offshore wind is more than 4,200 gigawatts of capacity, or 13,500 terawatt-hours per year of generation. Courtesy image

Offshore wind is a new-to-Maine industry, which means that the state has an opportunity to create the best policy framework possible. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory estimates that the technical resource potential of U.S. offshore wind is more than 4,200 gigawatts of capacity, or 13,500 terawatt-hours per year of generation.

If you’re like me, and now just learning about energy generation, this capacity is enormous – roughly three times the total electric consumption of the United States in 2022. The major benefit of offshore wind however isn’t just this capacity, but that it is a clean, renewable energy source.

Offshore wind energy generation isn’t entirely emission-free, but the energy it generates produces 97 percent fewer emissions than natural gas generated energy.

What’s the catch?


There are many challenges with starting a new industry. In terms of economic and environmental impacts, we know that new resources may present challenges to the state’s coastline whose communities, traditions and cultural heritage rely on the oceans.

Maine has yet to announce the siting or placement of offshore wind, so while extensive project planning has commenced, location-specific data is still forthcoming. The topography and bathymetry (depth) of the Gulf of Maine require floating offshore wind structures, and this new technology is still in development at the University of Maine’s Advanced Structures & Composites Center.

While there is much to do in terms of planning and development, the state has committed to responsible development of the offshore wind industry by taking into account the preservation of Maine’s thriving marine economy, traditions and culture, as well as the protection of the marine environment, wildlife, fisheries, and all ecosystems in the Gulf of Maine.

The state plans to start slowly by installing 155 megawatts of electricity by 2030. This capacity will increase to an estimated 2,086 megawatts by 2050, but only after monitoring and evaluation of the initial installations and state approval for continuation. With the addition of offshore wind to Maine’s renewable energy portfolio, state goals for reduction of carbon emissions and renewable energy generation will come more sharply into focus.

Want to learn more?

Join the One Climate Future team June 13 from 5 to 6 p.m. for a special edition of Coffee & Climate – Maine’s Offshore Wind Roadmap: Charting the Course for Maine. To register for the virtual event, visit


Offshore wind presents a generational economic and energy opportunity for Maine. As an abundant source of clean and renewable energy, offshore wind has the potential to help free Maine from its over-reliance on fossil fuels and to curb climate-altering emissions and protect our state’s environment for future generations. The Governor’s Energy Office knows that Maine is an ideal place to responsibly develop offshore wind.

Maine’s Offshore Wind Roadmap is a stakeholder-driven development plan that offers an analysis of how Maine’s communities, fisheries, and ecosystems can realize economic, energy, and climate benefits from offshore wind.

Join Stephanie Watson, Maine Offshore Wind program manager with the Governor’s Energy Office and Bill Needelman, Portland waterfront coordinator, who will be leading this conversation about Maine’s Offshore Wind Roadmap and how offshore wind would diversify Maine’s energy sources to reduce fossil fuel dependence and emissions, as well as help Maine meet its goal of 100 percent renewable energy by 2040.

Our Sustainable City is a recurring column in the Sentry intended to provide residents with news and information about sustainability initiatives in South Portland. Follow the Sustainability Office on Instagram @soposustainability.

Steve Genovese is an AmeriCorps/Greater Portland Council of Governments Resilience Corps fellow serving in the South Portland Sustainability Office through September 2023. He can be reached at

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