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Offshore Wind Power and its Potential for Development in the West Wind Drift

[+] Author Affiliations
Kau-Fui V. Wong, Thomas Hutley, Emma Salgado

University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL

Paper No. IMECE2010-39825, pp. 1161-1169; 9 pages
  • ASME 2010 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition
  • Volume 5: Energy Systems Analysis, Thermodynamics and Sustainability; NanoEngineering for Energy; Engineering to Address Climate Change, Parts A and B
  • Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, November 12–18, 2010
  • Conference Sponsors: ASME
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4429-8
  • Copyright © 2010 by ASME


Offshore wind power is an emerging technology capable of providing coastal cities, states, and countries with a substantial portion of their energy needs. The vast potential of offshore wind power has not been fully explored. This work endeavors to perform a review of the literature on offshore wind power. Structural, economic, and environmental aspects are discussed keeping in mind the current status of offshore wind power development around the world. Offshore wind power is a relatively new technology being used by countries such as Denmark, the United Kingdom, the United States, Germany, and China to provide larger and larger portions of their total energy needs. In 1991 Denmark opened its first commercial offshore wind farm in Vindeby producing a mere 4.95 MW of power. More ambitious projects followed and in 2001 the Middelgrunden, Copenhagen wind farm opened producing 40 MW of power. Then in 2000 the Horns Rev wind farm was put online producing 160 MW of power. The United Kingdom has many offshore wind power projects as well. The Blyth Offshore was opened in 2000 and produces 3.8 MW of power and several others in the United Kingdom produce anywhere from 10 to 90 MW of power. By 2007 end, Denmark had 402 MW and the UK had 395 MW, Ireland, Sweden and the Netherlands had varying amounts. Countries such as China and Germany are also leaders in the development of offshore wind power. In the United States, commercial offshore wind projects had a late start. The first operational offshore wind farms opened in 2007. However, the United States does not lag behind in wind power. In 2008 the United States produced more megawatt of wind power than any other country, making them the leader of wind power production. Offshore wind, however, only constitutes a tiny portion of the total wind power production of the United States. Recent advancements in the technology associated with wind power as a renewable energy source have made it a feasible form of climate change mitigation. Recent development has led countries such as Denmark, Portugal, and Spain to devote as much as 19% of their total energy production to wind power as of 2008, and is encouraging many other developed countries to do the same. This paper performs a review of the status of offshore wind projects internationally. It considers specifically the potential of the West Wind Drift near the southernmost tip of South America and the Antarctic Peninsula as a geographically and meteorologically advantageous location for the implementation of these wind technologies. Many of the more general problems associated with the use of wind turbines are eliminated by location alone. The winds that cause the Antarctic Circumpolar Currents (ACC) have a consistent west to east pattern and are some of the strongest winds on Earth, both ideal qualities when considering the possibility of wind power, and the wind in this area has very low intermittency. The average wind speed between 40°S and 60°S is 15 to 24 knots with strongest winds typically between 45°S and 55°S. Cape Horn is about 56°S [1]. Historically, the ACC has been called the ‘West Wind Drift’ because the prevailing westerly wind and current are both eastward. Owing to the remoteness of the Cape Horn area and Antarctica, many of the social matters associated with the development of wind farms are eliminated. Obvious factors must be considered when developing in such an area. The paper will cover the engineering requirements of turbines functioning in subzero temperatures consistently as well as the long distance transmission associated with development in this area and its economic feasibility. It will also cover the environmental and regulatory issues associated with the development in such an area.

Copyright © 2010 by ASME



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