Winds offshore are typically stronger and more consistent than winds onshore. Stronger winds more power generation. As an example, a wind turbine can generate 50% more power with a 16 mile per hour wind than a 14 mile per hour wind. Initially, the electricity cost ($/kWh) for offshore wind was higher than onshore wind. Offshore wind turbines have the cost for the platform to mount the wind turbine. The cost to install and operate an offshore wind farm are higher than wind farms onshore.
Developments in wind turbine technology and improvements in offshore wind farm supply chain processes, turbine installation and maintenance have steadily reduced the cost of offshore wind energy. In 2015, Vattenfall, a Swedish utility bid US $ 0.12 per kWh to sell power from a wind farm off the coast of Denmark. Since then, several offshore wind farms have sold power to Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands for less than US $ 0.10 per kWh.
The steady decline in the cost for offshore wind power in Europe has created excitement for this technology in Asia. In the People’s Republic of China (PRC) 1,100 MW of offshore wind farms were installed in 2017. The PRC now produces 2,900 MW of power from offshore wind farms. The Republic of China (Taiwan) has announced plans to build offshore wind farms that will provide 5,500 MW of power by 2025. Japan currently has 65 MW in offshore wind farms and plans to complete 525 MW of offshore wind projects by 2020. The Republic of Korea has 28 MW in offshore wind farms and is currently building another 60 MW offshore wind farm project. Korea’s government has set a target of 12,000 MW in offshore wind projects by 2030. The Socialist Republic of Vietnam has 101 MW in two offshore wind farms. The Republic of India has begun a tender process for 1,000 MW of offshore wind projects.
In the United States, the first offshore wind farm began operation off the coast of Rhode Island in December 2016. The success of the 30 MW offshore wind farm has created excitement for this technology along the east coast of the United States. The states of Massachusetts and Rhode Island awarded 1,200 MW of offshore wind projects in May 2018. The states of Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island have committed to another 5,500 MW of offshore wind energy projects. In my opinion, successes in offshore wind farms along the eastern seaboard will finally prompt the states on the west coast to recognize the energy potential from offshore wind. The strongest and most consistent winds in the United States are off the coast of Oregon and northern California.
In summary, Europe has lead the charge in the development of offshore wind farms. Asia is now aggressively developing offshore wind energy. The United States has been slow to accept the economic and environmental advantages of offshore wind. In my opinion, the United States is finally seeing the significant potential of offshore wind energy.