Offshore Wind Farms and Undersea Power Cables

Energy use causes problems far and wide, making the search for a solution difficult. While the search for alternative forms of energy continues to be an issue, the new phenomena of offshore wind farms and use of undersea power cables together are proving to be a potential resolution to this persistent problem. A wind farm is made up of many wind turbines. When wind flows through the blades of the turbine, they start to spin. The blades of the turbine are attached to a drive shaft, that when spun causes an electric generator to turn and produce electricity. [1]

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www.telegraph.co.uk

Offshore farms are superior to land wind farms for a variety of reasons, not all of which are scientific. Wind turbines take up a lot of land and many people find the wind farms to be unattractive and do not wish to see them near their homes. Second, winds tend to be faster and more consistent offshore rather than on land. According to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, “a turbine at a site with an average wind speed of 16 mph would produce 50% more electricity than at a site with the same turbine and average wind speeds of 14 mph.”

An offshore wind farm in Germany consisting of 80 turbines generates enough energy for 400,000 homes. [2] The power generated travels through cables 6.5 feet under the ocean floor. These cables were originally used as submarine power cables. They are also being used to connect one country’s power source to another’s. One example is the 360-mile long cable connecting Dutch and Norwegian power sources, called the NorNed. This connection allows the Dutch to use hydroelectric power generated by Norway during the peak of demand for energy during the day and the Norwegians are able to use the energy from Dutch power plants as needed as well. Amazingly, this linkage reduces CO2 emissions by nearly 1.7 million tons per year. [2] Many countries are intrigued by this idea and plan on making connections of their own. Scotland, for example, is planning on building a line to England. It is an ambitious plan to build a $1.1 billion, 239-mile cable under the Irish Sea. Many other countries are getting involved with similar projects as well such as Canada, the U.S. and many others.

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Above: Engineers work on building an undersea cable [2]

The construction of these lines is very expensive because not many places make these undersea cables and the ships that are built for “cable-laying” are also in short supply. However, with the growing interest and value of these cables, the market for this product is predicted to grow much larger in the coming years. The use of offshore wind farms is also increasing. Since it solves the problems of land use and efficiency, these farms will undoubtedly become more common and increasingly more advanced. Offshore wind farm projects are being planned in Denmark, the United Kingdom, Norway, the Netherlands, Japan, China, South Korea, Belgium, Sweden, Italy, Portugal, and others. [1]

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