What are benefits of an offshore wind farm?

Published on
August 30, 2023

Offshore wind is having a huge impact on the global energy transition. Learn about the advantages, environmental effects, and how de-risking procedures help with the success of offshore wind farms.

Wind power is a well-established technology that competes effectively with other types of renewable energy sources. When wind turbines are placed offshore (in the water), they benefit from stronger and more consistent winds. This also means they have a smaller impact on the landscape and do not create noise or flicker effects that could bother people living nearby.

An advantage of offshore wind compared to onshore wind and solar power is that it doesn't need any land specifically dedicated to building the plant. This is especiallyuseful in areas where available land is limited and has many competing potentialuses. Other renewable energy sources like wave energy exist, but they are notas widely used as offshore wind because they are still costly and less reliable.

The offshore wind industry is growing rapidly.  One of the main areas for this type of wind energy is in the North Sea, where countries like the UK, Denmark, Germany, and the Netherlands have been using offshore wind farms for many years. Currently, there are Gigawatt scale projects that are operational or under development. Southeast Asia, particularly China and Taiwan, has also been making impressive progress in offshore wind. They have a significant amount of capacity and a lot more projects planned for the future.

Just like any other development, building offshore wind farms can have environmental effects. These impacts mainly involve potential harm to coral reefs and other marine life during the construction phase. However, mitigation measures can be developed to reduce these risks. It's crucial to carefully assess all potential risks at the preliminary stages of the project to avoid any major problems. As the project progresses, detailed planning and appropriate measures will be implemented to address and minimize any existing risks. This helps to ensure that the environment is protected as much as possible while harnessing clean energy from offshore wind.

The main challenges are connected to the lack of an established market and needing to bring in expertise from outside of the country. Additionally, the lack of prior knowledge of developing in a certain location. These factors combine to increase the risk of developing a wind farm or encountering unexpected challenges along the way. That's why it's crucial to take proactive measures to reduce these risks right from the start, and to involve all relevant parties and stakeholders as early as possible to ensure a smoother and more successful outcome.

The sizable advancements in offshore wind energy have been driven by large-scale deployment of technology. The significant de-risking means the projects are more likely to succeed. It has also allowed for the creation of a strong supply chain and experts who specialize in this field. Another significant progress is the increasing size of wind turbines. The biggest turbines can produce a remarkable 15 megawatts of power. This means fewer turbines are needed to generate a certain amount of electricity, making the process more efficient and cost-effective.

While offshore wind farms have many advantages, as with anything it does come with some challenges. However, ongoing research and technological innovations are continuously addressing these challenges and making offshore wind a more practical and attractive option for sustainable energy production.

Learn about the research the RA has made on the possibility of an offshore wind farm in Bermuda as host our second and third Town Hall events on September 6 and 7 at the BUEI and Willow Bank Resort, respectively. Visit here to learn more and register for the events.  

Information submitted by Ricardo Energy & Environment