For More Information

NOAA Coastal Services Center

Follow on Twitter and Facebook

NOAA Website Supports Offshore Renewable Energy Planning

December 23, 2011
Screenshot of map from that shows wind speeds needed for economically viable power generation

The yellow and orange colors on the map above indicate wind speeds greater than the seven meters per second needed for economically viable power generation. The large amount of area with this high offshore wind energy resource potential in the Northeast U.S. makes it attractive for offshore wind development. is a website that supports offshore renewable energy development in U.S. waters by providing the best available geospatial data, decision-support tools, information, and partnership opportunities in an accessible online format. It integrates legal, physical, ecological, and cultural data to inform decision making on a range of ocean issues. is an initiative that currently maintains and automatically updates more than 100 authoritative data sets with mapping information from 19 different federal and state agency partners. The combination of marine cadastral and regionally specific data provides users with the spatial context needed to address issues such as alternative energy siting and to aid comprehensive coastal and marine spatial planning, management, and conservation.

The Initiative

Developed by the NOAA Coastal Services Center in partnership with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, offers a comprehensive, visual approach to data analysis. Data are available through both an online viewer, which allows users to visually analyze and explore geospatial data for marine spatial planning activities and by direct download from the site.

The data on are served using the latest Web service technology that allows them to be integrated by other organizations and applied to a myriad of issues. This "serve once, use many times" model saves resources and allows for quick application development. In addition, users can create interactive regional maps—known as "mashups"—that allow them to pan, zoom, and activate various data layers at will, to spot ocean-use conflicts more easily.

Intended Use

The data viewer in is intended to be used as a planning and screening tool to inform decisions on ocean uses. It is not intended to be used for precise site selection. Instead, this tool provides the spatial context needed to make decisions about where suitable areas exist for offshore activities and where a more detailed look at potential conflicts is needed.

For example, was used by the North Carolina Wind Energy Task Force to help identify suitable offshore areas for wind energy siting and by the National Marine Fisheries Service to determine that a proposed wave energy project would have conflicted with a major shipping lane and two national marine sanctuaries.


In November, received the 2011 Success through Collaboration award from the Center for Environmental Innovation and Leadership. All CEIL award-winning projects were developed by military and federal teams and programs to improve environmental quality, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, or increase use of renewable energy and bio-preferred products.

Support Coastal Decisions is constantly evolving and growing to include relevant issue-driven data, and in the future, the team will focus on strengthening the biodiversity and human use data as well as building decision-support tools to support coastal and marine spatial planning.