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NASA satellites show offshore wind potential

The wind blows strong and steady out at sea. NASA releases maps to measure where wind energy on the the oceans is best for setting up turbines.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory released images on Wednesday depicting offshore wind energy potential around the world.

Gathered from almost 10 years of satellite data, the wind maps can be used by offshore wind energy developers to measure which sites have the best resource.

Red and white colors indicate high wind energy is available while blue color reflects lower energy. NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

The best sites, depicted in red, have a steady and high wind speed for most of the year. Offshore wind turbines have the advantage of not having wind blocked by buildings or land formations.

Wind energy could supply 10 percent to 15 percent of the world's electricity needs, said Paul Dimotakis, chief technologist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Dimotakis said offshore wind turbines could produce electricity cheaper than solar energy could.

There are no offshore wind farms in the United States, but many expect that it's a matter of time before one will be built. New types of turbines are being developed so that they can be anchored farther offshore.

The Cape Wind project, though highly criticized, is moving forward in its approval process. And a project led by Bluewater Wind off the coast of Delaware was recently approved by the state legislature.

Earlier this week, oil prospector T. Boone Pickens announced the Pickens Plan, which set the goal of getting 20 percent of U.S. electricity in 10 years from land-based wind turbines in the middle of the country