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Offshore Wind Energy vs Onshore Wind Power – Advantages and Disadvantages

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Offshore Wind Energy has been foretasted from around 3 GW to 75 GW by 2020 as countries in Europe,Asia and North America heavily support this industry.Note onshore wind energy growth has slowed down as 38 GW of Wind Capacity were installed in 2010.Offshore  Wind Energy is being subsidized as it has a number of advantages over onshore wind power despite its higher costs.Top Wind Turbine companies like Gamesa,Vestas,Siemens are jostling to get a first mover advantage as the learning curve is steep.The opportunity is so large that South Korea shipbuilders like Samsung,Daewoo and Hyundai  are investing heavily in this area.Note Onshore Wind Energy also has many advantages which have overcome the drawbacks to become the biggest green industry.Offshore Wind Power is set to take up the growth baton for Onshore Wind as Costs of Offshore Wind are expected to come down as the industry and technology matures and more Wind Turbine Companies gain experience in this area.Note USA has 4000 GW of Offshore Wind Capacity which is enough to meet the entire electricity need of the biggest power consumption country in the world.

Advantages of Offshore Wind Farms

Wind Energy has a number of advantages and a small number of drawbacks.Offshore Wind Farms manage to overcome even these few drawbacks.

Advantages common to offshore and onshore wind energy

1) No Pollution and Global Warming Effects – Wind Turbines does not lead to pollution which is one of the biggest advantages of Wind Energy.Note there are costs associated with the equipment used to build and transport Wind Equipment but the running of Wind Energy leads to no pollution

2) Low Costs – The Costs of Wind Energy has reached the level of Gas powered Energy and can be generated at extremely low rates of around 7-8c/KwH in favorable conditions

3) Big Industrial Base – Wind Energy has become a mainstream source of energy and a large industrial base already exists .This allows a rapid deployment of Wind Power in most places in the world.The number of Wind Turbine Producers is increasing with a number of Asian firms entering the industry.

4) No Fuel Cost – Wind Energy does not require any fuel like most other sources of renewable energy.This is a huge advantage over other fossil fuels whose costs are increasing at a drastic  rate every year.Electricity prices are increasingly rapidly in most parts of  the world much faster than general inflation.Price shocks due to high fuel costs are a big risk with fossil fuel energy these days

Advantages of Offshore Wind over Onshore Wind
1) No Noise Pollution – Wind Turbines emit a slight whirring noise which has led to problems with people living nearby.Some farmers have also complained that the livestock like sheep get affected by the moving of the Wind Blades.Offshore Wind Farms are located far off the coast cause no such noise problems for humans or wildlife

2) No Injuries to Birds – Older Wind Farms on Land frequently cause deaths and injuries to birds though newer wind turbines don’t cause too much problems.Offshore Wind Farms do away with this problem entirely as they are located in the Ocean where birds don’t fly frequently if at all.There is research being conducted to see if there is an impact on sea life by Cowries.

3) No loss in scenery though near shore offshore wind farms have come into controversy because of this,the Cape Wind Project is attracting a lot of protests particularly from the Kennedy’s who say that it will destroy the view from their house near the ocean

Disadvantages of Offshore Wind over Onshore Wind

Cost – This is  the biggest disadvantage of offshore wind power over onshore wind energy.Note it can cost between 2.5-3.5 times more to generate electricity from offshore wind turbines than the wind farms built on land.There are a number of factors that determine the price such as wind speeds etc.However offshore wind industry is still in a novice state compared to the relatively mature level of the land based wind industry.


Abhishek Shah

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