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How offshore wind power can help us save the world

UNITED KINGDOM | Thursday, 26 October 2017 | Views [286]

While solar, biomass, and geothermal technologies are all viable approaches to cleaner energy provision, wind power is leading the way, with investment in offshore wind farms growing by 40% last year.

Within a difficult political economy, where renewable energy has faced several funding cuts in recent years, what do these offshore wind farms offer that other sources don’t?

Environmental advantages of wind power

Wind farms are an attractive proposition for many reasons, and the major advantage of this energy source lies in its green credentials. Simply put, harvesting a natural, limitless resource like wind is a clean and effective way of generating power.

Additionally, wind turbines are relatively inexpensive compared to other renewable energy sources, while offshore wind farms carry numerous other environmental benefits.

In addition to generating electricity, recent research suggests that wind farms could assist in hurricane prevention. Using a sophisticated computer simulation, it has been estimated that 78,000 wind turbines spread across 35,000 km of ocean outside New Orleans would have reduced Hurricane Katrina’s winds by 129 km/h.

Reducing the impact of hurricanes is not the only environmental benefit of offshore wind farms, however. Further research also suggests that marine wildlife is finding shelter amongst the turbines, with large wind farms offering new habitats for a number of species.

Development of floating wind farms

In addition to these various environmental benefits, thanks to the development of innovative technology, offshore wind farms are becoming bigger and better.

Recently, floating wind farms have been developed, which utilise a clever underwater ballast, alongside mooring lines, to keep the turbine floating upright. These amazing floating wind farms vastly increase the depth at which the turbines can be floated.

While the traditional fixed wind turbines have a limit of around 40 metres, the new floating turbines can be deployed at depths of anywhere between 100 to 700 metres. This huge increase means that wind farms can now be established further from the shore in deeper waters.

The first floating wind farm to use this new technology was successfully established 15 miles off the coast of Peterhead in Scotland earlier this year, and is capable of providing energy for over 20,000 homes.

Image courtesy of inews.co.uk

Filling the world’s energy requirements with wind

The success of the first floating offshore wind farm is good news for renewable energy, as it opens up numerous further locations that were previously inaccessible. In addition to this development, turbines are getting bigger and are capable of generating more energy thanks to a higher capacity.

According to a report by Stanford University, this technological development means that wind power alone could be sufficient to fulfill the world’s energy requirements by 2030. Through both land-based and offshore turbines, the report suggests that the 80 terawatts produced would be 7 times the estimated requirement of the human species.

While the technology of these floating wind farms is still in its infancy, and more development is needed to get to that point, the future of the world looks good - thanks to offshore wind farms.

Tags: energy, environmental, wind power, windfarms

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