by Alex Elder
In the past decade, the use of wind energy has increased dramatically. Wind farms that provide energy for millions of homes have popped up all over the country. However, the current energy market still relies heavily on the production of oil and gas resources as a main source of energy. The two biggest downsides of fossil fuel dependency are the lack of renewability and the environmental and economic consequences. For these reasons, renewable energy sources like wind power have become more appealing in recent years as the negative impacts of using fossil fuels become more salient and serious. In particular, offshore oil rigs are one of the most controversial sources of fossil fuel because they are notoriously dangerous for those working on them and result in frequent oil spills and fires which negatively impact the ocean through pollution.
Rather than relying on offshore oil rigs, a different offshore alternative is the installation of wind turbines off the coast. Although Europe has already established many successful offshore wind farms, the idea has yet to catch on in other parts of the world like the United States. Offshore wind farms are more beneficial than oil rigs in many ways. First of all, they are much safer to work on than offshore oil rigs because there is little risk of fires or the use of dangerous equipment. Because they are also offshore, transfer of jobs from oil rigs to offshore wind farms. Secondly, because these farms would be harnessing wind power rather than drilling for oil, there is no environmental risk like a potential oil spill or fire. Furthermore, because wind is a renewable energy source, offshore wind farms could continue to provide safe and stable jobs and stimulate the economy in a more reliable manner.
Not only are offshore wind farms a better alternative than offshore oil rigs in terms of risk, cost, and renewability, they also have significant benefits over their onshore counterparts. Unlike onshore wind turbines, offshore installations are less obtrusive both in terms of noise and aesthetic disruption of the landscape. Moreover, wind speeds over water tend to be much higher than on land. Thus, offshore wind turbines would yield more power overall than onshore turbines.
Overall, offshore wind farms could be a great alternative energy source to both offshore oil rigs as well as onshore wind farms. Although their use is popular in some parts of the world, they have yet to be used in the United States. Future use of offshore wind farms could reduce negative environmental impacts and stimulate the economy all while providing renewable, clean energy.
Snyder, B., and Kaiser, M. “Ecological and economic cost-benefit analysis of offshore wind energy.” Renewable Energy 34.6 (2009): 1567-1578.
Menaquale, Andrew. Oceana. “Offshore Energy by the Numbers” (2015) http://usa.oceana.org/sites/default/files/offshore_energy_by_the_numbers_report_final.pdf