Survey and Assessment of the Ocean Renewable Resources in the US Gulf of Mexico

Walter Musial, Suzanne Tegen, Rick Driscoll, Paul Spitsen, Owen Roberts, Levi Kilcher, George Scott, Philipp Beiter

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


This study was conducted by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and funded by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM). It provides a comprehensive feasibility assessment of multiple offshore renewable energy technologies in the Gulf of Mexico (GoM) to inform BOEM's strategic plans related to possible Outer Continental Shelf alternative energy leasing activities in the GoM. In coordination with Gulf Coast states, the study includes some information on offshore renewable energy potential in state waters for future energy planning. The goal of the study is to survey potential offshore renewable energy sources in the GoM and quantify their feasibility relating to resource adequacy, technology maturity, and the potential for competitive cost. The study provides a review of available technologies and concepts for generating offshore renewable energy, including a high-level assessment of the current state of each technology and its potential for future advances. It provides a breakdown of resource capacity for each renewable energy technology and a recommendation that offshore wind be pursued for future study as the most promising technology. The renewable technologies that were considered include offshore wind, wave energy, tidal energy, ocean current energy, offshore solar energy, ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC), cold water source cooling, and hydrogen (as a storage medium to utilize existing pipeline infrastructure). The resource capacity for each of these renewable energy sources was quantified for both the gross resource capacity potential (gross resource) and the technical resource capacity potential (technical resource) using the methodology described in an earlier NREL report. Many of these sources are very immature from a commercial perspective, which makes some of the comparisons difficult. In many cases, new methods were developed to estimate nominal power density for each technology type, which were necessary to convert the resource areas into deployable gross and technical resource capacity potentials.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages82
StatePublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Prepared for the U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) under BOEM Agreement No. M17PG00012

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-5000-71761

Other Report Number

  • BOEM 2020-017


  • BOEM
  • Gulf of Mexico
  • offshore renewable energy
  • offshore wind


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