Off Shore Wind

Rachel Kalick
December 14, 2014

Submitted as coursework for PH240, Stanford University, Fall 2014


Fig. 1: Wind turbines. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Offshore wind power is generated by the construction of wind farms to create electricity from large amounts of wind found over bodies of water. The term "offshore" does not limit the creation of turbine farms to strictly coastal waters-offshore wind power also includes the energy created by the wind of land-locked bodies of water like lakes and fjords. [1]

Although a source of energy that is still being pursued and developed in the United States, Europe has been home to offshore wind farms since 1991. In 2013 European offshore wind power contributed almost 15% of the wind power capacity created that year. Europe is home to nearly 70 offshore turbine farms with the UK, Denmark, and Belgium with the largest capacity--the total installed capacity for Europe reached 6.562 MW. [2]


Offshore wind power is incredibly advantageous for many reasons outside of being sustainable and green. Firstly, the wind that occurs over bodies of water is typically stronger and more consistent than the wind that occurs of land. The potential energy produced from wind is directly proportional to the to the cube of the wind speed. [1] This means that another positive factor to pursuing the generation of offshore wind power is the time at which wind speeds are the highest. Typically, offshore breezes tend to be highest in the afternoon which is many families utilize the most electricity. [2] Offshore wind turbines have blades twice as wide than that of a Boeing 747, and have the ability to produce five megawatts of energy. That is way greater than the 1.5- megawatt capacity of land based turbines. [3]

Fig. 2: Total capacity. [5] (Source: Wikimedia Commons)


The main disadvantage to offshore wind farms is the cost to build. The cost for constructing an offshore wind turbine is roughly $5 million per megawatt of capacity, while a land turbine ranges between $2-$2.5 million. [1] Another negative outcome of these farms might be the disruption they cause in marine or bird life. However in terms of energy creation, it seems that advantages of implementing offshore wind farms far outweigh the disadvantages.


Offshore wind farms provide a green and energy efficient way to produce energy. The use of turbines generating energy from large gusts of wind have already been implemented and used on land, however the development of these farms in bodies of water is fairly new, but is an option that should be further explored. By 2030, the US wants at east 20% of its electricity to be from wind powered sources, and the construction of offshore wind farms would help them achieve, or even exceed that goal. [4]

© Rachel Kalick. The author grants permission to copy, distribute and display this work in unaltered form, with attribution to the author, for noncommercial purposes only. All other rights, including commercial rights, are reserved to the author.


[1] "BP Statistical Review of World Energy," British Petroleum, June 2014.

[2] "Wind in Power - 2013 European Statistics," European Wind Energy Association, February 2014.

[3] W. Musial and B. Ram, "Large-Scale Offshore Wind Power in the United States," U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory, NREL/TP-500-40745, September 2010.

[4] "Global Wind Report - Annual Market Update 2013," Global Wind Energy Council, April 2014.

[5] S. Gsänger and J.-D. Pitteloud, "2011 Report," ' World wind Energy Association, May 2012.