Why is offshore wind energy in demand?
Why is offshore wind energy in demand?
Advantages of Offshore Wind Energy
- Wind speeds offshore tend to be faster than on land. Small increases in wind speed yield large increases in energy production which means that more energy can be generated offshore than on land.
- Offshore wind speeds tend to be steadier than on land which means that offshore wind is a more reliable source of energy.
- Half of the United State’s population lives in coastal areas and, therefore, the energy demands on the coasts are very high.
- Offshore wind farms provide renewable energy and they do not consume water or emit environmental pollutants. DOE
- Offshore wind energy is a domestic energy source.
- Offshore wind energy will create approximately 77,000 jobs.
- Offshore wind energy will bolster the economy through job creation and significant infrastructure investment.
- Offshore wind farms can create an artificial reef and/or act as a fish aggregation device (FAD). This means that populations of certain fish in the wind farm area may increase, making offshore wind farms productive recreational fishing grounds.
Disadvantages of Offshore Wind Energy
- Offshore wind farms can be expensive and difficult to maintain.
- Offshore wind farms have limitations in terms of the depth of the water and type of bottom that they can be constructed on. On the East Coast, where the water is relatively shallow, this does not pose as much as an issue. However, on the West Coast, where the water is deeper much closer to shore, this limits the energy resource. Floating wind turbines are an effort to overcome this challenge.
- Significant storm events can damage turbine structures.
- The production and installation of undersea cables is very expensive. Maintenance is often limited by the weather.
- Construction and operation can be harmful to birds, fish, shellfish and marine mammals.
- Offshore wind farms are often located or proposed to be located on commercial fishing grounds, potentially reducing landings and causing gear and navigation challenges.
- Offshore wind farms built within view of the coastline may be unpopular among local residents and may affect tourism and property values.
- The possibility of a ship colliding with a turbine poses a potentially significant risk to the marine environment from fuel leaks from a disabled ship or to human safety should the turbine collapse
OWE has the potential to aid federal and global responses to climate change, help achieve zero-emission energy goals and facilitate economic growth through historic infrastructure and workforce investment.
United States Federal Action
The Biden-Harris Administration has set a target of deploying 30 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind energy by 2030 while ensuring biodiversity and promoting co-use.
Executive Order 14008, Tackling the Climate Crisis and Home and Abroad: On March 29, 2021, the White House announced a set of bold actions to catalyze offshore wind energy through it’s 30 GW by 2030 platform. In addition to increasing renewable energy production in the U.S., this initiative will strengthen the domestic supply chain and create thousands of jobs.
- Meeting this target will involve more than $12 billion per year in capital investments, create more than 44,000 jobs in the offshore wind energy sector and an additional 33,000 jobs in communities supported by OWE activity.
- 30 GW of OWE will generate enough power to meet the demands of 10 million American homes per year and will avoid 78 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions, which is the equivalent of the emissions from over 16 million cars driven for one year.
- DOE also announced $8 million for 15 new offshore wind research and development (R&D) projects through the National Offshore Wind R&D Consortium. The selections include projects to develop innovative support structures, support U.S.-based supply chains needed for wind turbine production, advance electrical systems innovation, and present solutions for impacts on wildlife and radar. (DOE Announcement of 30GW by 2030 OWE Deployment Target)
In September 2021, the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) and the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) announced a new UN Global Compact to advance Sustainable Development Goal 7 (SDG7) on sustainable energy for all, in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change.
The agreement states that by 2030, IRENA and GWEC will work together to:
- Increase government ambition to achieve 380 GW of offshore wind installations globally by 2030, and 2,000 GW by 2050, in line with offshore wind’s role in net zero by 2050 scenarios.
- Enhance the collaboration between IRENA and GWEC to accelerate offshore wind development in this decade, through increased stakeholder engagement, capacity-building, technical assistance and support.
Renewable energy alternatives
The US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) leads a large network of researchers and other partners to deliver innovative technologies that will make renewable electricity generation cost competitive with traditional sources of energy.