Understanding offshore wind energy

Published on
June 23, 2023

What is offshore wind energy, and how does an offshore wind farm operate?

The wind energy industry was first established onshore and onshore wind is one of the main renewable energy sources worldwide. However, in recent years, there has been a rapid growth of wind turbines being installed offshore.

Offshore wind energy is a clean and renewable energy using the force of the winds at sea.

To make the most of this resource, wind energy converters or what is known as a wind turbine capture the power of the wind to convert it into electricity. The most popular design is a three-bladed, horizontal axis, upwind turbine. The three blades are attached to a hub and are shaped like airplane wings which create lift in the direction of rotation. The hub is connected to a generator, which produces electricity. The electricity is then sent out through a cable from the turbine.

Offshore winds are normally stronger than on land, and on average have higher capacity factors. Thanks to advancements in larger turbines and other technologies that maximize the use of wind resources, new offshore wind projects can generate electricity from 40% to 50% of their maximum potential energy. In Bermuda, we expect to produce energy around 33% of the maximum potential energy.

There are several advantages to installing wind turbines in the ocean instead of on land:

  • They have less visual impact, meaning they are less noticeable.
  • They create less noise.
  • There is no flickering of light caused by the sun shining through the turbines.
  • The wind is stronger, more consistent, and less turbulent offshore, which means turbines can generate more electricity.

 The process of building an offshore wind farm is like other renewable energy plants. First, a preliminary study is done to see if the project is possible. This study looks at where to put the wind farm, its impact on the environment, which technologies to use, how much energy it can produce, and if it makes financial sense. Then, a selection process is done to choose a developer who will do more studies, design the project in detail, and build the wind farm. Each project can have its own unique steps and may require additional considerations.

In Bermuda, offshore wind energy was considered in pursuit of cleaner energy future for the island. In the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP),the RA set an ambitious target of reaching 85% renewable energy generation by2035. Installing a 60MW offshore wind farm to be operational by 2023 will facilitate achieving this.

An offshore wind farm will take the initiative for decarbonizing our energy system. The proposed wind farm could generate 30% of the annual electricity demand in Bermuda and could displace over 110,000 tons of CO2eper year.

A pre-feasibility study for offshore wind commenced in August 2021 and since then seabed assessments and potential technical and environmental impacts have been analysed. If you are interested in learning more, The RA is hosting a town hall to present research taken thus far.


Read the full Information Package.

Register for the town hall.

Information submitted by Ricardo Energy & Environment