Top 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Offshore Wind Energy

View of windturbines in the Dutch Noordoostpolder, Flevoland and the IJsselmeer, near the town of Urk.

In this blog, we are re-posting the content from Liz Hartman’s blog article, “Top Things You Didn’t Know About Offshore Wind Energy” from August 30, 2021 ( Hartman is the Communications Lead for the Wind Energy Technologies Office in the U.S. Government’s Department of Energy. Unlike Hartman’s original article that features the American perspective, the blog below keeps in view EPiK Energy’s position as a Canadian company within the wider North American renewable energy sector. We’ve added more links below where necessary to accommodate the broader viewpoint.

10. Offshore Wind Resources Are Abundant:

Offshore wind has the potential to deliver large amounts of clean, renewable energy to fulfill the electrical needs of cities along North America’s vast coastlines. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in the U.S., the technical resource potential for U.S. offshore wind is estimated at more than 2,000 gigawatts of capacity. If Canadian coastlines are included, the longest in the world and which are more than ten times the length of America’s, the capacity skyrockets.

9. Offshore Wind Turbines Can Be Extremely Tall:

In order to capture the abundant wind resources available offshore, offshore turbines can be scaled up to 250 meters in height, with blades up to 100 meters.

8. Offshore Wind Components Are Getting Larger:

Offshore wind turbine components are transported by ships and barges, reducing some of the logistical challenges that land-based wind components encounter, such as narrow roadways or tunnels. These components enable offshore wind developers to build larger turbines capable of producing more electricity, though working at sea presents its own challenges

7. The North American Offshore Wind Industry is Ready for Takeoff:

Canadian and U.S. governments are working collaboratively with industry and academia to address research challenges that are unique to the North American offshore wind environment (like hurricanes), and to understand and address market barriers such as environmental impacts, logistical challenges, siting and permitting, and infrastructure development.

6. Offshore Wind Farms Use Undersea Cables to Transmit Electricity to Grid:

Electricity produced by offshore wind turbines travels back to land through a series of cable systems that are buried in the sea floor. This electricity is channeled through coastal load centers that prioritize where the electricity should go and distributes it into the electrical grid to power our homes, schools, and businesses.

5. Most of North America’s Best Offshore Wind Resources Are in Deep Waters:

Up to 80% of the world’s offshore wind resource is in water deeper than 60 meters, which make conventional foundations impractical. In both Canada and the U.S., offshore wind projects are being developed to accommodate the unique conditions at each site.

4. Offshore Wind Turbines Can Float:

Several companies are developing innovative floating offshore wind platforms for use in deep waters. Three kinds of floating platforms are spar-buoy, tension leg platform, and semi-submersible. Most of the current projects will use semi-submersible platforms.

3. Offshore Wind is Right on Time:

In many areas where offshore wind projects are planned, offshore wind speeds are highest during the afternoon and evening, when consumer demand is at its peak. Most land-based wind resources are stronger at night, when electricity demands are lower.

2. Offshore Wind Resources are Close to Where Most North Americans Live:

The largest population centers in North America are located along the coastlines and around the Great Lakes, which means that the greatest demand for electricity is near the best offshore wind resources. Wind turbines in these settings use shorter transmission lines to connect to the power grid than many common sources of electricity.

1. Offshore Wind is Here in North America:

There are now at least two completed offshore wind projects in the U.S. and many more are in various stages of development throughout North America. Deepwater Wind commissioned the Block Island Wind Farm in December 2016. Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind became the second operational project in 2020. The NaiKun Project in Hecate Strait, British Columbia is the only West Coast proposal, and Beothuk Energy is engaged in five new projects in Atlantic Canada.