Daily Environment Repost Urban Environmentalist

Offshore wind power: A bright future or a blight on golfers?

Offshore wind power is one of the next significant growth areas for clean energy because the technology has come of age, and the demand for clean energy is driving decision making. Wind toppled hydroelectric in 2019 as the most-used renewable energy source for electricity generation. But not everyone is happy, and some are quite outspoken.

Donald Trump has commented extensively on offshore wind power:

“I know windmills very much.”

“I never understood wind.”

“They say the noise causes cancer.”

“I’m not going to lose that wealth on dreams, on windmills, which, frankly are not working all that well.”

“You cannot allow these industrial monstrosities.”

The first two comments taken together cancel each other out and may reflect the extent of scientific reasoning behind his dislike of wind power. However, the last two quotes probably get to the root of the problem. The Scottish government allowed the installation of offshore wind turbines along a section of the North Sea coast near Aberdeen, Scotland. This area also happens to be the home of Trump International Golf Links, where excellent views of the slowly rotating windmills decorate vistas from the links. Trump fought this offshore energy project for years before eventually going down in defeat.

I was in Aberdeen recently and had a first-hand look at the offshore wind farm. I thought the turbines were quite striking, set against the background of the North Sea. They looked much better than the windmills on the “putt-putt” courses I played as a child, and I couldn’t hear any noise.  But everyone’s aesthetic preferences differ, and visual pollution is indeed a constant area of conflict in the construction of wind farms.  

However, where some people see only bad news, others see opportunity. Governor Phil Murphy is one of those looking at the situation through rose-colored glasses.

Biggest turbine port in the country

New Jersey Governor Murphy recently announced that his State would embrace offshore wind power by leading the nation in building the first dedicated port for assembling and transporting offshore turbines. But these are not the “putt-putt” windmills of my youth. Offshore turbines rise over 800 feet from their bases. Also the sheer size of these behemoths means that manufacturing and assembling them at a coastal port provides an economic advantage by limiting transport logistics.

New Jersey aims to use only clean energy by 2050 and has goals to generate enough clean electricity by 2035 to power half the State’s homes. New Jersey is not alone in their clean energy aspirations, because states from Maine to Virginia have also announced plans for offshore wind power. This stretch of the east coast is one of the most densely populated regions in the United States. So, electricity demand is big and getting bigger.

Couple that demand with the right geography, and you then get a winning recipe. The map below shows wind speeds at 262 feet above the earth’s surface. Purples and reds show the highest wind speeds, thus making the East Coast a prime location for harnessing wind power. Shallow waters on the continental shelf also add allure to wind power projects in this region.      

Source: NREL

The technology is ripe

Renewables form an essential source of energy for America, and wind power is a proven rising star. During the past two decades, wind-generated power moved from a negligible source to supplying over 40 percent of the electricity produced from renewables. The technology to efficiently harness commercial electricity from the wind started 40 years ago but has blossomed in the past 20 years.

The turbine industry is scaling up that technology for offshore wind power. The Haliade-X turbines from GE stretch 853 feet from base to blade tip. The blades are an impressive 351 feet long, and the rotational diameter of the turbine is 722 feet. These turbines will annually produce about 67 GWh (GigaWatt hours) each, enough electricity to power 16,000 households.  

The demand for electricity is increasing, and the technology is ripe for harnessing offshore wind power. Competitive clean energy is a reality about to take off due to free enterprise, clean energy, and American innovation. There is not much to gripe about unless you plan on building a golf course along the Jersey coast.


Coal slumps as renewable energy surges (Source: ArcheanWeb) – https://archeanweb.com/2020/06/16/coal-slumps-as-renewable-energy-surges/  Also

A Breezy Future: The Rise Of Wind Power (Source: ArcheanWeb) – https://archeanweb.com/2020/06/17/a-breezy-future-the-rise-of-wind-power/  Also

Electrical power, a climate change puzzle (Source: ArcheanWeb) –  https://archeanweb.com/2020/06/26/electrical-power-a-climate-change-puzzle/  Also:


New Jersey aims to lead nation in offshore wind. So it’s building the biggest turbine port in the country (By  Dino Grandoni ; The Washington Post) – https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-solutions/2020/06/16/new-jersey-aims-lead-nation-offshore-wind-so-its-building-biggest-turbine-port-country/  Also:

‘I know windmills very much’: Trump’s top 10 wind power quotes (By Andrew Lee; Recharge) – https://www.rechargenews.com/wind/i-know-windmills-very-much-trumps-top-10-wind-power-quotes/2-1-729724  Also:

These huge new wind turbines are a marvel. They’re also the future. (By  David Roberts, Vox) – https://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2018/3/8/17084158/wind-turbine-power-energy-blades  Also:

U.S. Offshore Wind Industry STATUS UPDATE – JUNE 2020 (Source: American Wind Energy Association) – https://www.awea.org/Awea/media/Resources/Fact%20Sheets/Offshore-Fact-Sheet.pdf  Also:

Offshore Wind (Source: American Wind Energy Association) – https://www.awea.org/policy-and-issues/u-s-offshore-wind   Also:

Feature Image: Wind Turbines off Aberdeen Coast (Modified) – By Rab Lawrence from Aberdeen/Scotland – Oil Rig Supply Boats at the Aberdeen Anchorage Point ., CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=90835550

William House
William is an earth scientist and writer with an interest in providing the science "backstory" for breaking environmental, earth science, and climate change news.