Wind energy industry increasingly moving offshore

The UK turned on the first part of what will be the world’s largest and furthest offshore wind farm this week, forging its way further into the forefront of the offshore wind industry.

About 75 miles off the east coast of Grimsby, U.K., is the Hornsea One wind farm, which is partially operational. Next year when it’s entirely online, it will have a generating capacity of 1.2 gigawatts, enough electricity to power a million homes. For now, it’s capable of powering approximately 287,000 homes.

With plans to construct a twin farm nearby, the U.K. is evidence that offshore wind development is growing quickly. As the industry grows, experts are forging new paths to find the best way to manage these wind farms.

“Operating a wind farm this far offshore is unprecedented,” David Coussens, the deputy operating manager for the wind farm, told the Offshore Wind. “We’ve had to think creatively and come up with new ways of working to overcome the logistical and technical challenges of operating a massive power station 120 km from the shore.”

The U.K. leads Europe in offshore wind generation, with a total capacity of 8.2 gigawatts. This puts countries like the U.S. to shame, with only about 0.03 gigawatts of offshore wind capacity.

Though offshore wind farms are a growing phenomenon, many of the world’s largest wind farms are still on dry land. This includes the world’s seventh largest wind farm, Meadow Lake Wind Farm in Chalmers, Indiana.

The Indiana farm has 414 turbines and a wind energy capacity of 801 megawatts.

However, Indiana wind energy may be at risk as local city governments are putting the matter to a vote. The industry lost the battle in Tippecanoe County when commissioners voted to ban large turbines and commercial wind farmsfrom rural land around Lafayette and West Lafayette.

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