Development of wind power stations is part of any realistic energy plan for the United States. However, land-based wind farms have a singular disadvantage. Even in the Midwest, the frequency and strength of breezes is highly variable. There is a solution, however. Offshore winds are strong and steady, offering huge potential for meeting America’s energy needs.
The advantages of offshore wind farming include:
- Freedom from land use and other legal disputes – Proposals to build massive wind farms in the US have run into a multitude of legal challenges and issues, caused by private property rights and other factors. Waters within 100 miles of the shoreline, however, fall under the direct jurisdiction of the federal government, making such problems non-existent.
- Return on investment (ROI) – Estimates of the amount of electricity that can be generated from land-based wind farms show that they could meet around 20% of the country’s needs. That’s assuming that the power could be transmitted from the isolated rural places such farms will be located in to urban areas. Offshore farms, on the other hand, could supply up to 80% of the electricity the nation uses. Even better, the largest consumers of electrical power in the US are cities located near coastlines or the Great Lakes, where offshore winds are strongest. Therefore, the lines needed to deliver energy to them would be relatively short, saving billions of dollars in infrastructure costs.
- Benefits to marine life – Numerous studies have shown that offshore wind farms act as reefs for sea creatures, encouraging population growth for blue mussels, barnacles, crabs, and various types of fish. The farms could even be designed to favor the growth of endangered and environmentally important sea life, helping to counteract the effects of over-fishing.
The enormous potential for both energy production and environmental benefits is more than enough reason for private and public agencies to create offshore wind farms along American coastlines. Citizens should do all they can to encourage both government and business agencies to aggressively pursue their development.