In recent years, more and more attention has been given to renewable energy sources in contrast to the traditionally oversought crude oils, natural gases and coal. This has come from the realisation that these resources are no longer (if they ever were) in abundance, allowing the nations and companies in ownership to increase the price again and again.
It is a welcomed change of attitude as the advantages to switching to green, renewable energy sources are endless and are not reserved exclusively for the environment – although this is one of the most important. If a country were able to create all its own energy, not only would this create jobs in its production and maintenance but it would also no longer need to adhere to rising prices of fuels from abroad – plus, it’s always nice to be self-sufficient . There are four main types of renewable energy sources: hydro, wind, solar and bio. One of the leading methods, wind power, is widely used on the hills of some countrysides. The focus of this article, however, will be more specifically geared towards wind farming offshore, and why it could be the top source of renewable energy in the world.
- It’s impossible to ignore the benefits to the environment that renewable energy sources such as offshore wind farming provide. When non-renewables are burned, not only do they release their energy but they also release harmful gases into the earth’s atmosphere, which over the course of just a few hundred years has caused the most drastic change in global temperature since the last ice age. Renewables convert naturally and perpetually occurring things into energy, working with the environment as opposed to against it.
- The wind speeds out in the ocean are much more consistent than on land and provide a greater potential for creating energy. For example, the UK’s largest offshore wind farm, London Array, currently produces 650 megawatts per hour a year in energy. This is 100 MwH more than the largest onshore site, Whitelee.
- One of the drawbacks that has been highlighted regarding onshore wind farms is that they distract from the natural aesthetics of whichever countryside they are built on. For example, there have been recent protests against EDF’s plans to build a new farm on the Lewis isle of Scotland. Moving these farms offshore is an ideal compromise for this concern.
- One of the economic factors previously mentioned was the creation of jobs. Offshore wind farming creates employment in a variety of ways: construction, engineering, operations, maintenance, administration and many more. For instance, in 2016 the US wind sector employed over 100,000 people.
- Given that over 70% of the earth’s surface is water, the space available to build offshore wind farms is staggering. The largest in the world is the previously noted London Array. However, when completed, the Hornsea project (also belonging to the UK) will be take this title, covering 650 square kilometres and producing over 1,000 MwH.