Sunday, October 21, 2012

Guide to offshore wind turbines

Offshore wind energy sector is yet to achieve its full expansion because offshore wind turbines are still connected with high costs. And although land wind energy projects still dominate global wind energy industry, many countries have started giving offshore wind energy a chance. United Kingdom, a global offshore wind energy leader, sees offshore wind projects as its main ticket to enter clean energy race.

EU leads the way in offshore wind energy development while United States is yet to seriously consider this renewable energy option. Unlike EU that is densely populated and doesn't have plenty of room to provide for land wind farms U.S. still has many rural and isolated areas with good wind energy potential so it's really no surprise that U.S. still favors wind energy projects on land. However, many energy analysts believe that the future of wind energy industry will belong to offshore wind energy sector, and U.S. might want to take this renewable energy option more seriously.

Offshore wind energy turbines can provide better output compared to the ones on land because winds that blow offshore are more frequent and much more powerful. The major downside of offshore wind power is that the construction costs are very high. The reason for this is that offshore wind farms need to be heavily constructed in order to withstand extreme weather conditions.

Offshore wind turbines need to survive extreme weather events at sea.

The transport of required equipment is much easier for offshore wind energy farms as compared to the ones on land. Transporting large wind turbine components such as tower sections, nacelles, and blades is much easier over water than on land, because ships can handle large cargo much easier than trucks or trains, also with no traffic jams like on land.

The wind energy industry is already looking for possible solutions that would allow cost-effective ways of harnessing offshore wind power. One of the most interesting proposals is to use large floating platforms that could be located further offshore and catch even more wind energy.

Choosing the right location for offshore wind turbines is extremely important, not only in terms of potential output but also to make sure that offshore wind farm does not interfere with shipping lanes. The developers must also be very careful not to build them in fishing areas.

Offshore wind turbines need to be equipped with safety mechanisms because of extreme weather events, such as powerful sea storms. These safety mechanisms have the purpose to slow down or completely stop the spinning of wind turbines in times when wind speeds reach 50 miles per hour and above.

The environmental impact of offshore wind turbines is yet to be thoroughly studied. There have been some talks about the possible noise pollution coming from large offshore wind turbines but this is yet to be confirmed. In any case, their environmental impact is far more positive that the ones of fossil fuel fired power plants, which still remain primary sources of energy consumption.

Offshore wind farms need to have larger output as compared to wind farms on land. Their construction costs are significantly higher, and this can be only compensated with higher output.