11 Quick Facts About Offshore Wind Development

11 Quick Facts About Offshore Wind Development

Aug 4th 2023

With the world’s population increasing, scientists and engineers must constantly think of new ways to provide energy to those who need it. The trouble is finding a way to produce enough energy that doesn’t put as much demand on our world’s limited resources. Some people think the answer to this dilemma is offshore wind power, but others aren’t sure what this source means for our environment or if it’s truly reliable. If you’re interested in learning more, take a look at some quick facts about offshore wind power and development.

Floating Wind Turbines

Most of America’s offshore wind turbines exist in deep waters, where you can’t build your typical turbine foundation. Instead of using steel structures to fix turbines to the seabed, engineers use platforms that allow wind turbines to float. Engineers can affix turbines to barges, but they also use spar buoys and tension leg platforms. Most projects use semi-surmisable turbines. Semi-submersible turbines sit on a floating platform of three columns anchored to the seabed by chains.

Undersea Cables

If you’re curious as to how all that power transports back to shore, you wouldn’t be the only one, but the answer is actually quite simple. It’s remarkably similar to the way power plants supply power to your home, only on a much bigger scale. The electricity produced travels through a series of cables buried underneath the seabed channeled through load centers on the coast and goes straight to power grids.

Available to Many Americans

Many Americans are rightfully asking the question, “What about landlocked states?” At the moment, channeling offshore wind turbine energy toward the center of the country isn’t really feasible. The good news is that 80 percent of the country’s electricity demand lies on the coasts and around the Great Lakes in states such as California, New York, Florida, and Michigan. Fortunately, most offshore wind turbine farms are in these bodies of water.

Reliable Energy Source

For many people, the thought of relying on wind for energy can be a nerve-wracking thought. After all, can you really rely on such an uncontrollable element for power? That is exactly why so many wind farms are now in the ocean. Out where the waters are at their deepest, wind is incredibly common and much stronger than the winds you’ll typically experience on land. Also, it’s important to note that energy grids typically get their power from different sources, so you don’t have to worry about going without electricity.

Meeting Peak Energy Demands

If you’re still worried about running out of electricity, there’s some more good news. The typical demand for electricity tends to reach its peak from the afternoon to the early evening. The sun as its highest during this time of the day and, not so coincidentally, when people are at their busiest in comparison to nighttime. Engineers strategically locate wind farms in areas where winds reach their peak in the afternoon to ensure they can meet the high demand.

Larger Than Life Towers

Your overage wind turbine ranges from 262 to 295 feet tall, which is taller than the Statue of Liberty. However, offshore wind turbines are even taller, coming in at 328 feet. Engineers predict they’ll be able to build wind turbines that reach 494 feet by the year 2035. The length of the blades themselves can reach up to the length of a football field.

Wind Turbines and Birds

Understandably, animal conservationists worry about how these giant spinning blades will affect bird populations. After all, if the idea is to protect the environment—do we really want to hurt birds in the pursuit of sustainable electricity? Offshore wind turbines are responsible for less than 1 in 4,000 bird deaths per year. In comparison to how human activity and climate change are affecting bird populations, the number of offshore wind turbine bird-related deaths is negligible.

Recyclable Parts

On the topic of sustainability, we also must consider the kinds of materials we use to create these wind farms and how they impact the environment. The good news is that the average operation lifespan of an offshore wind turbine is about 25 years. Plus, engineers work to create more and more wind turbines with recycled parts. As a bonus, about 90 percent of the 8,000 parts it takes to make a wind turbine are recyclable.

An Abundant Energy Source

On average, a single onshore wind turbine can produce an average of 3 megawatts (MW). For reference, 1 MW can power over 100 average homes. A single offshore wind turbine can produce an average of 8 MW. However, wind turbine farms don’t contain merely a single wind turbine. They often contain dozens, sometimes up to a hundred. The average wind turbine farm can produce about 1 gigawatt (GW) of power, which is roughly the same amount of output as a nuclear power plant.

Easy Transport

With all those huge parts, you may wonder how transporting the components of a wind turbine is even possible. It’s much easier to transport offshore turbine components than it is to transport onshore components. It has less to do with the size of the parts and more to do with the overall terrain. Onshore turbine components must travel up hills, bumpy roads, tunnels, and more, whereas offshore components take a smooth luxury cruise across the ocean.

Low Carbon Footprint

Arguably one of the most important facts about offshore wind power and development is the truth about its carbon footprint. It’s true that the manufacturing and installation process does emit carbon dioxide, as the production of steel components and heavy transportation involves the burning of fossil fuels. However, keep in mind that each turbine can last up to 25 years, and these processes only have to happen once every installation. The total amount of emissions that these processes generate is much lower than that of coal-based power plants, and engineers continuously work to make these processes carbon neutral.

If you’re looking to start your own offshore wind farm, let Santie Oil help. As a lubricant wholesaler, we know how important it is to keep wind turbine gearboxes properly lubricated. That’s why we sell wind turbine oil from tried and true brands such as Castrol and Summit. With us, you’ll always be able to find what you need to keep your wind turbines running.

11 Quick Facts About Offshore Wind Development