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The Blue Economy: Offshore Wind Technology and the Renewable Energy Conundrum

advantages of wind power

Things are getting crowded on planet Earth. According to a United Nations report, it’s estimated that the world’s population will reach 8.5 billion by the year 2030. This presents a wide swath of potential problems in terms of demand for food, clean water, and sustainable energy. What will all these people eat and drink? Where will they get the electricity to power their iPads? Thankfully, a bold solution may be floating in on the breeze – or at least, may lie in offshore wind technology. As part of an ongoing series on the Blue Economy, Bold Business is exploring the advantages of wind power.

Of course, one of the biggest advantages of wind power is that it is renewable energy. Unlike oil and coal, which is depleted after use, the wind just keeps going. Experts foresee offshore wind technology to succeed in the United States just like it has in the United Kingdom.

Renewable Energy from Power Generation Technologies

Renewable energy, in the long run, is an affordable and practical solution to our electricity needs. It will decrease our dependence on oil, coal and other fossil fuels. ­It will, therefore, help in lessening air pollution. The technology will also create new job opportunities and industries. The U.S. has the available resources and technologies to generate as much as 80 percent of electricity from renewable energy sources by 2050. They will, in part, generate 40 percent in the next 20 years.

Power generation technologies are those that make use of existing energy flow from natural sources or renewable natural resources—like the sun, tides, heat, and wind—and then transform that energy flux to electricity. In the case of offshore wind technology, the wind turbines used in gathering the energy flux from the wind are placed where the strong and constant winds are off the coast—but still within view of the coastline—and set on the seabed itself.

The availability of uninterrupted powerful winds found in the middle of the sea and far from the coast is one of the advantages of wind power via offshore wind technology. In addition, amassing electricity from a renewable natural resource such as the wind is beneficial in moving the country towards a better Blue Economy.

Offshore Wind Technology—Pros and Cons

There is a need to assess and weigh the advantages and disadvantages of investing in offshore wind technology. The reality is that there are disadvantages to offshore wind technology. First, offshore wind farms that use this technology can be very challenging and notably costly to build and maintain. Second, the construction of offshore wind farms are within view of the coastline—estimated about 26 miles offshore. It may upset local residents near the coast, disturb tourism, and influence nearby property values. Third, there is a lack of understanding and research on the effects of offshore wind farms on marine wildlife and birds.

A significant advantage of offshore wind technology is the creation of jobs for the building and maintaining of wind farms. Offshore wind farms also do not consume water or emit greenhouse gases or environmental pollutants.

 The Advantages of Wind Power in the Blue Economy

European countries have been the forerunners in offshore wind technology.

In total, Europe has had a significant head-start in the industry, boasting 94 wind farms to date. It is therefore apparent from price changes that the U.S. is stepping into the foyer of an improving Blue Economy.

With offshore wind technology, harnessing the power of the wind may decrease our dependence on electricity from non-renewable resources.

The constant changes in the temperature of the sea produce winds that can be an inexhaustible source for electricity. The U.S. has been looking forward to making use of it as it adopts sustainable methods for electricity generation.

Bold Realities in the Offshore Wind Technology

For many years, a large-scale industry for offshore wind technology seemed like a far-off thought for the U.S. However, based on the developments in the U.K. and Europe, U.S. policymakers continue to look at the said technology as a feasible option to attain renewable energy goals.

In December 2016, one offshore wind farm began operating off the coast of Rhode Island.  The Block Island Wind Farm, America’s “first offshore wind farm,” houses small five wind turbines.

Such bold moves in the U.S., therefore, are a reflection of what the world’s largest offshore wind technology developer, Danish company, Ørsted, has been doing for the U.K. Offshore wind technology provides at least five percent of the country’s electrical power. This will feasibly quadruple by 2030.

Ørsted has been constructing a massive facility about 60 miles off the coast of Grimsby in Northern England. The place is home to seven wind farms.

Certainly, investing in offshore wind technology and making use of the advantages of wind power is a bold opportunity. There is a call for investments in technologies that make use of renewable sources. The advancements in offshore wind technology should inspire other countries to take similar steps in providing similar technology.

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