Offshore Wind Turbines
Offshore turbines capture wind energy from above the ocean surface. The majority of offshore turbines are situated in deep waters, so engineers are developing technology to anchor the turbines down while allowing them to float. Coastal environments are naturally breezy, therefore, it is the ideal spot for harnessing wind energy.
Offshore wind turbines produce more energy on average than onshore turbines (2.5-3 MW vs. 3.6 MW per turbine). The UK has tried to incorporate wind power into their energy grid. In 2019, 13% of the UK’s energy came from offshore turbines. Offshore windmills produce the most energy during the afternoon and evening, when energy demands are greatest. This is positive because a lot of onshore renewable energies produce the most power at times of lower demand. The majority of energy demand comes from coastal states or regions near the great lakes. These are the places that have the best access to offshore turbines. According to the Office of Energy Efficency and Renewable Energy, the potential for offshore wind power in the United States is 13,500 terawatt-hours per year.
Cape Cod Controversy: Nantucket Residence filed a lawsuit to stop the construction of several offshore wind turbines. They were concerned that the wind turbines would disrupt the endangered whale population. Although the residents support green energy, they do not like that a pristine habitat will be disrupted. This case study is interesting because two initiatives that seem to be good for the environment are conflicting. Many federal agencies assessing the situation conclude that the project will have little to no impact on the whales. Surprisingly, this conflict has popped up with similar projects based in other locations as well. This wind farm has the potential to power 400,000 homes. Although offshore turbines have great potential for clean energy, they inevitably come with tradeoffs.