The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the Department of the Interior (DOI) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) last week that will strengthen the working relationship between the two agencies regarding future development of commercial renewable offshore energy projects on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf.

The DOI and DOE will use this agreement to spur the development of offshore wind and water resources. The MOU states that within 30 days of its signing, an interagency working group will develop an action plan covering the development of attainable deployment goals for offshore wind energy and marine and hydrokinetic energy. The action plan will also address siting and permitting, resource assessment, technical standards, data exchange, and public engagement.

The DOI said that the two agencies will also exchange information on resources and technologies, conduct stakeholder engagements, and collaborate on research projects. These activities will augment the scientific and technical exchanges that already occur between the two departments.

Even with recent increased interest in developing offshore resources, the federal approval in April of the Cape Wind project off Massachusetts, and the creation last month of the 10-state Atlantic Offshore Wind Energy Consortium, U.S. coastal wind and water resources remain largely untapped.

According to the DOE’s 20% Wind Energy by 2030 (PDF) report, offshore wind alone could produce 54 GW by 2030. The interagency pact will aid the development of such domestic energy resources by allowing the federal partners to pursue priority leasing and efficient regulatory processes for sites with commercial-scale offshore potential, the agencies said.

Sources: DOE, DOI, EERE, POWERnews