Jump to Main Content
Do onshore and offshore wind farm development patterns differ?
- Enevoldsen, Peter, Valentine, Scott Victor
- Energy for sustainable development 2016 v.35 pp. 41-51
- agricultural land, energy, forests, industry, issues and policy, marine environment, power generation, wind, wind farms, wind power, wind turbines
- When developers are building wind farms offshore or onshore, are there notable characteristics that differentiate these projects? If so, what does this tell us about the nature of wind power development patterns? This study makes use of industry data from 44 wind farms, including 11 offshore wind farms, 19 onshore wind farms located in farmland and 14 wind farms located in forested areas with a total capacity of 1190MW installed actual wind farms to test four hypotheses based on preconceptions identified in a literature review. Testing the validity of these preconceptions is important because if policymakers are to design policy to facilitate specific development patterns in a given nation, they need to be clear on what is working in the market. Our data suggest that, contrary to popular belief, offshore wind farms do not produce more energy per installed MW when compared to onshore wind farms. However, our data confirm that offshore wind farms produce more energy than onshore wind farms. We contend that this has less to do with superior wind quality in offshore sites than with scale differences. It appears that developers construct far larger offshore wind farms in order to presumably counteract the proportionally higher development costs associated with marine environments. One other remarkable finding associated with this study is that onshore wind turbines that are located in forested areas might be capable of matching the power production of offshore wind farms without incurring the additional costs associated with offshore projects.