A greener world isn’t around the corner, it is already here. In Scotland, five huge turbines have officially begun spinning in the world’s first floating offshore wind farm. As Engadget reports, the turbines are located approximately 15 miles off the coast of Peterhead, Aberdeenshire in Scotland.
Yesterday, the ribbon was cut on the renewable energy site by Minster Nicola Sturgeon. The floating wind farm is expected to pump 30 megawatts of clean electricity into the grid. That’s the equivalent of about 20,000 homes! Each turbine stands 253 meters tall (~830 feet), with 78 meters (265 feet) below the surface. The floating turbines are teetered to the seabed with chains weighing 1,200 tonnes.
Within the next year or so, a huge 1MWh “Batwind” storage device will be installed at the site to improve the turbines’ output. The Hywind Scotland project was made possible through the collaboration of energy firms Statoil and Madar.
Though this is the first floating offshore wind farm, it is far from the first offshore farm in Britain. After all, the largest wind turbines in existence harness energy in the UK. And soon, an even bigger wind farm than the Hywind Scotland Project will begin construction in the Irish Sea.
Is wind power the future?
While there are many benefits to harnessing wind power, there are also some negative repercussions of doing so. Both are outlined below:
- Clean source of power
To begin with, benefits of investing in wind energy include the fact that it is a “clean” energy, unlike coal or oil. This means it doesn’t pollute the air or require any destructive chemicals. Because of this, wind energy reduces our reliance on fossil fuels.
- Renewable source of energy
Wind is free, making it an incredibly valuable renewable asset. It can never be drained like other regular, non-renewable assets and the cost of harnessing wind energy has dropped substantially in recent years. In the future, it is predicted to become cheaper and cheaper. As long as the sun shines and the wind blows, we can utilize this resource.
- Rapid growth and potential
In the last decade alone, wind energy has witnessed dramatic growth. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, total wind power capacity has increased by an average 30 percent per year. And, wind energy accounts for approximately 2.5 percent of the world’s total electricity production. This percentage is only expected to increase.
These are but a few established pros to investing in wind power.
- Lack of reliability
Because the wind doesn’t blow reliably and turbines function at about 30 percent capacity, there is a risk involved with the investment. Additionally, serious storms or high winds (more common in offshore wind farms) may damage turbines.
- Threat to wildlife
It is not uncommon for birds to get caught or clipped by the edge of wind turbines. As a result, they are considered a threat to wildlife. There isn’t really a way to prevent this, which is why it is an established “con”.
- Expensive to install
The supplies and wind turbines themselves are not cheap, which means a hefty investment is required if one seeks to install wind turbines on their land or in an offshore wind farm. However, the payoff has been declared to be worthwhile by many independent farmers and contractors.
This is a brief look at the pros and cons of investing in wind. In the future, improved techniques to harness renewable energy may be invented. For the time being, at least, wind farms are reducing humanity’s reliance on fossil fuels — which is good news for the environment, wildlife, and coastal regions expected to be adversely affected by rising sea levels.
h/t Engadget, Conserve Energy