Off-shore wind energy

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Offshore Wind Energy brings all of the positive economic and environmental benefits of onshore development, as well as some unique characteristics.

Contents

Why should I be aware of this?

Offshore winds allow turbines to produce more electricity as they tend to flow at higher speeds than onshore winds, and are being used in a number of countries to harness the energy of the moving air over the oceans and convert it to electricity.

As wind blows harder off-shore, larger turbines can be installed. Many offshore wind farms are being proposed and developed today in densely populated Europe, where there is limited space on land and relatively large off-shore areas with shallow water.

Off-shore wind energy and environment

The following are the potential environmental impacts during construction, operations, and decommissioning of offshore wind facilities.

  • Marine life. Turbine foundations can act as artificial reefs which can increase fish populations from the new food supply.
  • Migrating birds. The turbines may cause possible collision with migratory birds. Tower illumination may also cause navigational disorientation for birds.
  • Alter natural environments. Underwater support pilings, anchoring devices, scour-protection materials, and electromagnetic fields could cause a decrease in benthic communities, alter natural environments, and possibly affect migration patterns.
  • Emissions. Each unit of electricity generated from the wind saves a unit generated from fossil fuels. This will help reduce greenhouses gases, pollutants, and waste products that result from fossil fuel use.

All about off-shore wind energy

Offshore turbines have greater technical needs than onshore turbines due to the more demanding climatic environmental exposure offshore. They need a stronger tower to cope with wind-wave interactions, protection against the nacelle components from sea air, and adding brightly colored access platforms for navigation and maintenance. Corrosion protection, internal climate control, high-grade exterior paint, and built-in service cranes are also provided to off-shore turbines.

To minimize expensive servicing, offshore turbines may have automatic greasing systems to lubricate bearings and blades and pre-heating and cooling systems to maintain gear oil temperature within a narrow temperature range.

Access to resource

  • Offshore wind turbines generate more power than on-shore turbines because wind speeds are generally higher and the available wind is steadier.
  • Off-srore wind is less turbulent, reducing wear on turbines.
  • Larger turbines, which can capture more wind energy, are feasible offshore because transportation is easier via water.
  • Allows shorter transmission lines to load centers and avoids some congestion bottlenecks by transmitting power from east to west.
  • Because of the “sea breeze effect”, offshore wind turbines can generate energy during times of high electricity

Relationship to customer demand

  • Offshore wind farms can generate energy near population centers.
  • As it can transmit power in closer proximity to demand, offshore power production will alleviate some transmission bottlenecks

Economic opportunities

  • Offshore wind development could spur assembly and transport activities in coastal cities.
  • Offshore wind power provides green jobs and contributes to a clean technology economy.

Impacts are limited

  • Compatible with existing uses – an offshore wind park will promote recreational fishing, as it can continue among the turbines.
  • Foundations can create artificial reefs.
  • Extensive studies at European sites have revealed no significant bird impacts and that, for the most part, birds avoid wind farms.

References:

  • Off-shore wind energy
  • Offshore Wind Energy