Why the future is here for Off-shore Wind Power
The first off-shore Wind turbine farm
The completion of the first offshore wind turbine farm off Block Island, Rhode Island last July marked the first installation of offshore wind turbines in American waters.
The Block Island Wind farm will provide a renewable source of power for the island, which currently uses diesel generators, and will also provide electricity to the rest of the state of Rhode Island.
Why off-shore wind power
Many states have committed to increasing the amount of power produced from renewable sources. New York State, for example, has committed to getting 50 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030, and officials say a significant portion will come from offshore wind farms.
Some of the best off-shore wind resources are along the East Coast where many Americans live. 40 percent of the U.S. population resides in a coastal county. Offshore wind facilities can, therefore, be installed close to large coastal population centers, reducing the need to install long transmission lines.
The wind produced off-shore is stronger and more reliable then on shore wind turbines. The increased wind speed effects electricity production, since the energy produced from a wind turbine is equal to the cube of wind speed.
The Atlantic coast off New York State is a good place to build wind farms because the water is relatively shallow, which reduces the cost install the turbine platforms.
How off-shore wind will achieve its full potential
Obstacles exist which threaten the adoption of off-shore wind farms. First, knowledge will be needed as more off shore wind turbine farms are installed are installed. Most on this knowledge will come from Europe where the technology is extensively used.
Another factor is as with all renewable energy projects is the financing. The attraction of partners with sufficient funding will be critical to ensure future projects move forward.
The most important factor is the regulatory arena, where offshore energy activities are subject to a unique set of requirements and regulations. The permitting rues are not the same as with on shore wind turbines.
The future is now if we choose
There is no reason why offshore wind turbines cannot enable the United Sates to meet its renewable energy objectives as in Europe. A few decades ago, the idea of harnessing the power of ocean winds seemed entirely impractical. In 2013, offshore wind accounted for 1.5 percent of all electricity used in the European Union, with all wind sources contributing 9.9 percent of electricity. By contrast, wind power made up only 4.7 percent of electricity in the United States last year. There are 22 other off-shore wind projects in various stages of development across the country. Seeing these projects through will allow meeting our commitments to renewable energy sources. The future is now.