Powered By The Sea

By Madi Zanardelli 

Composed of many intricate parts, windmills have a simple function, yet they have a huge impact in the field of renewable energy. In recent years, offshore wind farms have seen a spike in popularity. Using the constant, unobstructed wind from the seas, offshore wind farms are able to more quickly produce reliable energy. Similarly to landlocked turbines, the wind rotates the propellers, creating kinetic energy, which transforms into electricity via the generators. Unlike the land versions, the electricity from offshore plants travel through underwater cables  to substations located a few miles away. There, the energy converts to a higher voltage, travels to distribution networks on land, then eventually powers our homes. 

Landlocked wind farms may soon become a thing of the past as their offshore counterparts produce more energy and have seemingly more benefits. For starters, building on the ocean as opposed to land avoids tricky, complex land use requirements, and reduces noise pollution. Though shipping massive turbines out to sea may be more expensive, the power they generate is far greater, so it will more easily offset the initial cost. Another issue prominent in ocean wind farms is the concern of marine life impact. To ensure marine safety, cables transferring the energy are buried deep underground so as not to interfere with commercial longline fishing or dredging. The long term effects are unknown due to the contemporary aspect, but from what has been observed so far, offshore farms can benefit marine ecosystems. They cultivate unconventional reefs and act as a marine sanctuary by protecting against fishing. Offshore farms have evident additives beside the given increase in renewable energy, gaining them global attention. 

As of 2020, there are a little over two thousand farms spanning across 53 different countries. China reigns supreme at 317 farms, while Germany owns 180 and the U.K. and U.S. have around 150. Demand for clean energy has increased over the last couple years. With Biden’s inauguration imminent, we can hopefully move forward with renewable energy as he favors the increased use and development of offshore wind farms.