Wind energy has long been championed as a clean, renewable, and bountiful alternative to fossil fuels. After installing hundreds of wind turbines throughout the United States over the past few decades, creating a capacity of nearly 42,000 Mega Watts (MW), wind farmers and energy experts are now looking to the ocean to establish wind farms. One major drawback in such a move is the high cost. Energy from offshore wind farms costs 2.5 to 3.5 times higher than its onshore counterparts due to construction costs. Nevertheless, they are making a mark on wind energy and the clean energy sector as a whole with their numerous advantages.
Advantage #1: Aesthetics
Offshore wind turbines are obviously coming into much less human contact than those on land. Thus, people do not need to deal with the the noise pollution and eye sore that turbine cause for some. Farmers have complained that the whirring noise of turbines scare their livestock, while others simply do not like the sight of the turbines. Thus, with a move off land, the sounds and images of the turbines are nearly unnoticeable.
Advantage #2: Less Harm to Birds
Approximately 40,000 birds each year die by flying into wind turbines on land in the United States. Though this number is relatively very small in comparison to the number of deaths associated with pesticides, power lines, and other man-made structures, it is still an unacceptable statistic. Fortunately, offshore wind turbines mitigate this danger. In an attempt to cut down on bird deaths, offshore wind farms are located in specific areas of the ocean where birds do not frequently fly.
Advantage #3: More Wind
One of the greatest advantages that offshore wind farms have over those on land is the frequency of strong winds over the ocean. Studies have shown that winds offshore blow nearly 40 percent more often than on land. Consequently, offshore wind farms can outpace those on land in terms of capacity and possibly offset the higher construction costs.
The combination of all three makes a significant reason for people to maintain the development of onshore wind farms in places where there is an economic (i.e. enough wind), aesthetic and environmental sense, and to intensify their support for offshore wind. The current trend in offshore wind investment reflects this. Numerous countries in Europe, Asia, and North America are increasing their investments in this clean technology, showing that with time, we are becoming not only more efficient but also smarter about the way we create energy.