Protecting Offshore Wind: The Future of Energy

Infrastructure, Oil and Energy

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Oil prices have been falling, the Earth’s environment has been suffering from Global warming and the effects of burning fossil fuels.  This is not ground breaking news.  There are now solutions under way and renewable energy sources are no longer a pipe dream.  Not long ago, we predicted the Top 7 Energy Sources of the Future and number three from that list is beginning to produce tangible results.

Below is a map from 4C Offshore showing the location of over 1,000 of the world’s offshore wind farms:

Offshore Windfarm Map

There is one painfully obvious pattern you can see from the map:  the majority of the world does not generate their electricity from offshore wind, however there is a large cluster around the United Kingdom and Northern Europe.  The United Kingdom has seen a 52% increase in electricity generated from wind farms between July and September. Wind energy (both onshore and offshore) generates almost 10% of the country’s electricity.  Wind energy in the United Kingdom is also responsible for more than 35,000 people’s jobs.

The trend has begun to pop up in North America.  On December 20th, Beothuk Energy from St. John’s, Newfoundland in Canada unveiled a plan for a $4 billion and 120 wind turbine project off the coast of Nova Scotia to provide power to New England in the United States.  This plan makes sense for energy production due to its limited depth (just 30 meters) and close proximity to land (20 km to Nova Scotia).  These factors limit the cost of maintenance while the project is still capable of providing 1,000 Megawatts of electricity.

For a quick reference, Nuclear Power Plants can range in production between 450 and almost 4,000 Megawatts and the average Coal Power Plant in the United States produces 547 Megawatts of electricity.  Though there is no easy formula to determine the average requirement of power for a city, it is safe to say that 1 Megawatt can supply power to 650 homes.

Any project that is able to provide 1,000 Megawatts is impressive.  Even more impressive is if the power plant creates a minimal impact on its environment.  If this program is initiated, the most important step after construction is maintenance.  The power of water in the ocean, whether it be the salinity of the water or the force of its movements, is tough on any structure.  Routine inspections on these structures for corrosion and signs of structural wear are how small problems will be caught early and repairs will be kept relatively inexpensive.

Deep Trekker ROVs offer a cost effective solution for power producers to keep eyes on the submerged portions of their structures with no added hassles of complicated training programs.  The ROVs are easy to use and can save companies like Beothuk the expense of regular inspections by servicing companies while still reducing the risk of ignored water-bound structures.

As long as the long term maintenance cost is minimized, these eco-friendly power projects are not only going to be healthy for the planet, they will also be healthy for the job market and for our wallets.  

What do you think is the key to success for projects like these?  Comment below!

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