The marine environment possesses enviable qualities for the installation of wind turbines, with huge areas available for their erection and the possibility of installing offshore wind farms whose dimensions are appreciably larger than their land-based counterparts. Furthermore the sea, without the orographic obstacles that hinder or reduce the speed of the wind, favours the circulation of higher wind speeds and the reduction in environmental turbulence. This has a beneficial effect on the useful life of the wind turbine, decreasing fatigue and consequently increasing its life expectancy.
If we think for a moment about the essential variables that determine the amount of energy that could be produced by a wind turbine: wind speed, blade diameter and air density, we can conclude that it is precisely in the marine environment where we can maximise this trio of variables. We can achieve higher wind speeds than on land, with an air density at sea level also greater than the air density of mountains or hills and, as space is not an issue, blade diameter can be augmented up to technologically-possible limits.
The huge potential of the offshore environment for wind power, in conjunction with greater technological development of solutions for the manufacture, transport and installation of offshore wind turbines, underpin expectations for growth in this sector over the coming years.
Article published in: FuturENERGY November-December 2014