PROVIDENCE, R.I., Oct. 23 (UPI) -- Momentum is building behind the offshore wind energy sector in the United States but there are challenges ahead, an industry leader said.
Tom Kiernan, chief executive officer of the American Wind Energy Association, said offshore wind is on the cusp of a boom cycle, The Providence (R.I.) Journal reported.
"We've got some challenges ahead of us but we have momentum like we've never had before," he said Tuesday. "We have the wind at our backs."
Providence is hosting a two-day conference on wind energy.
The conference follows a July federal auction for 164,750 acres offshore Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Auction winner Deepwater Wind said it would be able to produce as much as 1,000 megawatts of energy from a wind farm set for construction in 2017.
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., said the offshore wind momentum could be handicapped by intermittent support from members of Congress for a 30 percent tax credit for offshore wind energy developments. He said offshore wind in the United States has "stumbled and staggered."
There are no commercial offshore wind farms in the United States.
More than 100,000 acres off the coast of Virginia went on the auction block in September for wind energy development. Additional auctions may take place next year.