Offshore Wind Energy – Increase Energy Efficiency, Reduce Costs

Offshore wind energy is a great idea and one that will save money in the long run. You may be familiar with offshore wind turbines, but they are still a relatively new technology, especially for countries where traditional power generation is low. In the US, you might not have heard of offshore wind because the US hasn’t yet built enough of them to be able to meet current demands.

China, India, and Japan are some of the countries that utilize their wind power for a variety of different reasons. Their combined resources will allow them to produce a lot more power than they can use.

But these countries aren’t alone when it comes to using renewable sources of energy. Offshore wind energy is a great way to help them accomplish that goal. It has been designed and tested very well in both commercial and research environments.

These are the reasons for the higher capacity factors and greater potential deployment of offshore turbines: 

  • They have longer blades and they are taller, which results in a larger swept area and thus higher electricity output. 
  • They sited in locations that have higher average wind speeds and have low turbulence. 
  • Very large wind farms are possible. 
  • It is less constrained by many of the siting issues we face on land. However, other constraints exist, maybe just as problematic and need to be adequately considered (e.g. adequate onshore infrastructure, shipping lanes, visual impact, etc.).

Wind turbines require constant, a continuous offshore rotational movement to turn them and to keep them producing energy. That’s just the way the product works. Offshore wind energy isn’t that complicated or difficult to produce.

Offshore wind turbines are basically flat plates which are made out of plastic. They are placed in a pool of water, or other similar water-filled area. Wind has to constantly flow to make it function correctly. The wind speed has to be steady to make it work.

The wind speed has to be steady, so the wind turbine doesn’t get damaged by turbulence and so it produces the most energy. The very basic design is that a larger plate spins at a higher RPM, which in turn spins a smaller plate at a lower RPM.

Of course, wind speeds vary based on the weather. The slower wind is pulling towards it, making the wind turbine to spin faster. The wind turbines than have the ability to either create electricity or to simply make the blades spin fast.

Image Source – Wikipedia

Offshore wind turbine foundation options

FoundationType/ConceptAplicationAdvantagesDisadvantages
Mono-pilesMost conditions, preferably
shallow water and not deep
soft material. Up to 4 m
diameter. Diameters of 5-6 m
are the next step.
Simple, light and versatile. Of
lengths up to 35 m.
Expensive installation due to large
size. May require pre-drilling a
socket. Difficult to remove.
Multiple-piles (tripod)Most conditions, preferably not
deep soft material. Suits water
depth above 30 m.
Very rigid and versatile.Very expensive construction and
installation. Difficult to remove.
Concrete gravity baseVirtually all soil conditionsFloat-out installationExpensive due to large weight
Steel gravity baseVirtually all soil conditions.
Deeper water than concrete
Lighter than concrete. Easier
transportation and installation.
Lower expense since the same
crane can be used as for
erection of turbine
Costly in areas with significant
erosion. Requires a cathodic
protection system. Costly
compared with concrete in shallow
waters.
Mono-suction caissonSands, soft clays.Inexpensive installation. Easy
removal.
Installation proven in limited range
of materials.
Multiple-suction
caisson (tripod)
Sands and soft clays. Deeper
water.
Inexpensive installation. Easy
removal.
Installation proven in limited range
of materials. More expensive
construction
FloatingDeep watersInexpensive foundation
construction. Less sensitive to
water depth than other types.
Non-rigid, so lower wave loads
High mooring and platform costs.
Excludes fishing and navigation
from areas of farm.
Source: EWEA, 2004

Each of the units has different ratings, depending on the various wind speeds at which they can produce energy. They are typically rated in terms of their amount of power. Some of them are bigger than others, and each one can either be powered by electricity or by water power.

These types of wind generators are widely used in commercial and residential areas. People like that they are more efficient than traditional methods. They can also be more cost-effective than traditional methods.

You can also sell the excess power you generate back to your local electric company. That would make it a little more economical, but by no means is it completely free. In fact, it can be very expensive to purchase new power.

When you’re at certain facilities, you are charged a certain fee. This varies from state to state, but it’s an expense that you won’t have to deal with. The expense of buying power from an offshore wind turbine is a small fraction of what it costs to buy power from the grid.

You can check about how all things come together in sea in this video:

Refrences: Wikipedia, EWEA, 2004

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