"There is a large opportunity between now and 2050 with projected retirements of fossil-fuel plants and growing demand," Zahas said at the Offshore Wind Energy conference in London today (7 June).
Zahas pointed to the east coast, close to major US demand centres, and the Great Lakes, where a number of traditional energy sources are being shut down, as the best areas for rapid deployment.
Development on the west coast will depend largely on the progress of floating technology, he added.
"I believe we talk too much about economics. Offshore wind has attributes that we need to understand more fully," he told delegates.
"You need to monetise the savings made in CO2 emissions, health benefits, reducing water consumption, job creation and offshore wind’s contribution to energy security," Zahas said.
Speaking in the same session, Jason Folsom, commercial head of offshore wind for Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy’s American arm, paid tribute to the "rogues, renegades and rebels" who had kickstarted the US offshore industry.
"I call it irrational exuberance," he said. "There were lots of companies with very intelligent people, but they didn’t have the whole package. They might have the right site, but not an offtake agreement. Or they might have secured that, but were too ambitious in their technology.
"But they shone a light on the sector that was too bright to ignore."
Folsom admitted the US offshore sector faces significant challenges — in vessels, ports, labour, supply chain, and politics.
"But we don’t have challenges in wind resources or available sites," he said. "Offshore wind is coming to America."