Offshore wind power generation is on track for a seventh consecutive year of record growth with 1,080 megawatts going online worldwide in the first six months of 2013. Total wind energy capacity has increased by 20 percent to 6,500 MW in 15 countries, while offshore wind capacity is increasing at a rate of nearly 40 percent a year.
The United Kingdom claims the most offshore wind capacity in the world with more than 500 MW installed in the first half of 2013 for a total of 3,461 MW, which is enough to power more than two million homes. The UK has an additional 12,000 MW of offshore wind either under construction or in the planning stages. The London Array — an offshore wind farm in the Thames Estuary — is the largest offshore wind farm in the world with an installed capacity of 630 MW from 175 turbines. The London Array will eventually generate 1,000 MW of renewable energy.
Denmark was the first country to install an offshore wind farm in 1991 and currently claims the second most offshore wind capacity at 1,274 MW. Denmark gets 30 percent of its energy from land-based and offshore wind with the aim of reaching 50 percent by 2020.
Rounding out the top five are Belgium, China and Germany. Curiously, the United States ranks last with only .2 MW of installed capacity. The Eastern Seaboard is one of the best places in the world for wind energy and according to the U.S. Department of Energy, has the potential to provide 530,000 MW of wind power in shallow waters, which could meet more than 40 percent of America’s electricity needs. When the West Coast, Gulf of Mexico and the Great Lakes are factored in, the U.S. has the potential for more than 4 million MW of offshore wind capacity.
New floating turbine technology could advance offshore wind, since turbines are not fixed to the seabed. This reduces costs, allows for more portability, and makes maintenance easier. Japan is nearing completion on a 2 MW floating turbine — the first of 140 floating windmills.
Images via Elite Ayrshire Business Circle