Onshore vs Offshore Wind Energy

It’s necessary to have lots of different renewable energy sources in order to reduce carbon footprints and provide an economically and environmentally superior alternative to fossil fuels.

Offshore Wind TurbinesOnshore wind energy sticks out as being extremely important because it’s one of the most cost-effective and mature of all the renewable technologies.

Although offshore wind is another great source of clean energy, it’s not the best investment  right now because of its very high costs, immature technologies and development constraints.

EXPENSIVE TECHNOLOGY

Offshore wind energy sources are currently one of the most expensive energy technologies. Offshore wind farms are 90 per cent more expensive than fossil fuel generators and  50 per cent more expensive than nuclear, according to The Telegraph.  This high expense is a result of the technical difficulties of offshore turbine construction and connection to the National Grid. Extra construction and materials are needed to set up turbines in the sea and  investment in new offshore technologies that may not work is also attributed to this cost.

Onshore wind energy, on the other hand, is the most cost-effective renewable energy source around. According to Friends of the Earth, energy from onshore wind turbines is two times cheaper than offshore wind.

Wind farms on land are almost as monetarily cheap as fossil fuels. But, if environmental damage was included, the price of coal would be three times that of onshore wind energy, according to Friends of the Earth.

Over time, offshore wind energy costs should come down, just as onshore has. This would allow Britain to bring in even more powerful and reliable wind power. But, it’s unlikely for offshore wind energy to become as cheap as fossil fuel prices for at least 18 years, according to Dr Robert Gross, co-director at the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC).

Onshore wind farms are the most economically competitive renewable energy source around right now, and are one of the cheapest energy sources in general. Payback time can be as short as two years with Boythorpe.

DEVELOPMENTAL HURDLES

There are many developmental hurdles for offshore wind farms because the industry is relatively new.

Offshore wind farms have had lots of issues with development, including limited locations, new consents procedures and objections from the Ministry of Defence, according to Friends of the Earth. These constraints greatly increase the time of the farms’ developments and payback. If rebuilding is required as a result of the constraints or objections, more carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases will be released into the air.

When developing wind farms offshore, fishing, boat navigation, ocean habitat and species, marine conservation zone and visual effect issues must be taken into consideration. Although a few of these same issues must be looked at during onshore wind farm developments, onshore technology approval processes are much more developed and practiced.

Because the changing climate is such an urgent issue and fossil fuels are depleting, both onshore and offshore wind must be used to reduce carbon emissions and replace finite energy sources and their escalating costs. The offshore wind resource is huge, and should be taken advantage of. But right now, onshore wind power is a much more proven and cost-effective investment than offshore wind power. To find out how you can start producing renewable energy from one of the best technologies around, click here.

References:

  • http://www.foe.co.uk/resource/factsheets/wind_power_your_questions.pdf
  • https://www.gov.uk/offshore-wind-part-of-the-uks-energy-mix
  • https://www.gov.uk/onshore-wind-part-of-the-uks-energy-mix#more-like-this
  • http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/energy/windpower/8028328/Britains-offshore-windpower-costs-twice-as-much-as-coal-and-gas-generated-electricity.html
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