Editorial Feature

Offshore vs. Onshore Wind Farms

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Regardless of the location in which the wind is acquired, all wind turbines are utilized to harness the energy generated by moving air to generate electricity for future use.

Since the first wind turbine was constructed in the late 1800’s, traditional onshore turbines originally dominated the market, however, recent advancements in the technology have led this industry to look towards implementing offshore wind farms.

Pros and Cons of Offshore Wind Farms

Table 1 highlights some of the pros and cons associated with offshore wind farms.

Table 1. Pros and cons associated with offshore wind farms.

Pros Cons
More efficient than onshore wind farms, as wind speed and direction are more consistent at these locations. Expensive technology associated with transferring energy from the turbines
Less turbines required to provide the same amount of electricity as onshore turbines Endure more wear and tear from wind and waves than onshore wind farms, thereby increasing operation and maintenance costs
No risk of visual impact Harder to get to; longer wait times required to correct any potential problems
No interference with land usage Currently limited in its ability to benefit local economies
Protect sea life by restricting access to certain waters; increase artificial habitats
Can be built to be much larger than onshore wind turbines; can therefore harness more energy1
No physical restrictions in these locations to block wind flow

Pros and Cons of Onshore Wind Farms

Table 2 highlights some of the pros and cons associated with onshore wind farms.

Table 2. Pros and cons associated with onshore wind farms.

Pros Cons
Considerably less expensive than offshore wind turbines Turbines are optimized at a specific speed, which can limit their efficiency as a result of the unpredictable speed and direction of winds at these locations
Cheapest form of renewable energy as compared to offshore wind farms, solar and nuclear power sources Public concern on the potential of turbines to:
  • Endanger birds and/or bats
  • Cause noise pollution2
  • Be aesthetically displeasing
Boosts local economies Cannot produce energy all year round due to the poor wind speed and/or physical blockage of the wind by buildings and/or hills
Less emissions associated with the transportation of wind structures
Less voltage drop between the windmill and the consumer as compared to offshore wind turbines

Making the Final Decision

The relatively new nature of the offshore wind energy industry contributes to the expensive costs associated with implementing these turbines.

Although offshore turbines are more prone wear and tear due to their location, current advancements in the technology of offshore turbines strengthen the tower to handle the loading forces of waves or ice flows.

Image Credits: SteveMeese/shutterstock.com

Additionally, pressurizing nacelles on these turbines are capable of preventing the corrosion of sea spray from harming the critical electrical components to further protect the turbine from potential damage3.

The steady speed and pressure of the winds at offshore locations are more reliable and efficient compared to onshore winds, therefore it is clearly beneficial for future developments in wind technology to look towards improving offshore turbines.

Conclusion

Overall, wind turbines, regardless of their location, are quick to install, especially as compared to other alternative energy sources such as nuclear power stations. Numerous external factors including the political, financial and geographical state of the particular area of the wind turbine must also be considered prior to initiating the construction.

Therefore, the decision on constructing either an onshore or offshore wind farm must be made on a case by case basis, in which each of these factors, combined with the individual pros and cons of both wind energy options, are taken into consideration.

As wind power becomes an increasingly popular renewable energy source, researchers expect that improvements in the technology will continue to improve the construction and engineering of these turbines to meet the global electricity usage needs.

References

  1. “Offshore and Onshore Wind Farms” – NES Global Talent
  2. “Where the Wind blows – Onshore vs. Offshore Wind Energy” – The Future of Energy
  3. “Offshore Wind Energy” – Bureau of Ocean Energy Management

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are those of the author expressed in their private capacity and do not necessarily represent the views of AZoM.com Limited T/A AZoNetwork the owner and operator of this website. This disclaimer forms part of the Terms and conditions of use of this website.

Benedette Cuffari

Written by

Benedette Cuffari

After completing her Bachelor of Science in Toxicology with two minors in Spanish and Chemistry in 2016, Benedette continued her studies to complete her Master of Science in Toxicology in May of 2018. During graduate school, Benedette investigated the dermatotoxicity of mechlorethamine and bendamustine, which are two nitrogen mustard alkylating agents that are currently used in anticancer therapy.

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