Offshore Wind Farms

If you compare Figure B (page i) of Reference 1 and the figure in Reference 2 (Wind Energy Resource Potential and Wind Energy Projects), you’ll note that the US east and west coasts and the Great Lakes have high wind potential and are, for the most part, close to population centers.

The SF Gate reported in September 2010 that the UK opened the world’s largest offshore wind farm, a 300 MW facility (Reference 3). The US currently has one facility, Cape Wind, planned for 420 MW (Reference 4). Progress has been stymied by well funded Cape Cod and Massachusetts opponents (Reference 5).

Other than the Cape Wind project, offshore resources do not appear to be aggressively considered. The UK and Denmark have led the use of offshore wind farms (Reference 6). Some Great Lakes projects are in the initial research stage.


  1. Shorter distance to population centers
  2. Lower transmission costs since there could be fewer property boundaries to cross.
  3. Political resistance to siting wind towers on the coast could be less if less desirable view locations are selected (in contrast to Nantucket Sound).


  1. Require facilities that could sustain severe transient wave, wind and storm forces and ongoing seawater and lake water corrosion. Wind generator platform costs would likely be higher than land facilities.
  2. The Newsweek March 28-April 4, 2011 edition page 31 reported in the article Is there any safe energy? that "a new study suggests that the beaked whales - the size of a rhino and the weight of a bus - are confused by the presence of wind farms at sea, leading them to beach. Not mentioned is the possibility that the low frequency noise level generated by the wind turbines might be detected by the whales.

A detailed comparison of all the costs associated with land-based and offshore projects would need to be done to get a more accurate picture.


  1. Executive Summary of the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) special report, Accommodating High Levels of Variable Generation, April 2009.
  2. Department of Energy Wind Energy Resource Potential and Wind Energy Projects
  3. SF Gate, World’s Largest Wind Farm Opens Off UK Coast
  4. Cape Wind
  5. Google search, Cape Wind Opposition,
  6. Wikipedia, List of Offshore Wind Farms

Renewables Home - Virtual Nuclear Tourist - Tuesday March 29, 2011