As the energy industry and the renewable energy market explore future energy options, offshore wind power has a lot of exciting potentials to provide.
FREMONT, CA: While offshore wind power is gaining momentum in Europe and East Asia, the U.S. has only started to test the waters on this renewable energy opportunity. A significant obstacle in the U.S. is the lack of onshore electrical infrastructure required to assist offshore wind farms. However, increasing interest in this renewable power source drives technical advancements to overcome the hurdles of offshore wind power. Findings from offshore wind farm projects on the U.S. East Coast will lay the foundation to start planning for onshore infrastructure. Large-scale wind farms will need expanded transmission potential to manage the increased power load.
Offshore wind power projects place wind farms in waters just off the coast to invest in advantages like shorter transmission distances and daytime wind patterns that match peak power consumption times. Only a few offshore wind turbines presently exist in the U.S., but increasing interest suggests that more of these projects may alter from concept to reality in the next few years. Building and functioning wind farms in U.S. coastal waters could offer both environmental and economic advantages. According to the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, offshore wind power advantages include its abundance, proximity to significant population centers, and daytime wind power maximization.
Wind farms are located in remote areas, needing extensive long-distance transmission, but offshore wind farms' proximity to urban centers would lessen these cost and infrastructure hurdles. Also, while land-based wind farms usually see the greatest power production during nighttime off-peak hours, offshore wind farms would create the most power during daytime hours, when power consumption is usually the highest.
Some companies are currently developing floating platforms for ultradeep waters where attaching turbines to the seabed with conventional foundations is impractical. Solving this technical hurdle is vital to offshore wind success in the U.S. because most of the Northeast and West Coast, where the turbines would be concentrated, have ultradeep waters. This floating system would enable onshore turbine assembly, mitigating time, cost, and safety hazards during construction. After the turbine and platform are complete, a tug could pull them out to sea, where they could be rested in their final location.