Seven Facts About Offshore Wind
Learn about offshore wind, the new clean energy source on New Jersey’s coast.
Is offshore wind reliable?
Offshore wind is a highly reliable energy source.
Hundreds of feet up in the air, the blades of offshore wind turbines are exposed to much faster and frequent wind, allowing them to generate electricity even when things seem calm on dry land. That’s one of the main benefits of situating offshore wind turbines far from the shore – along with drastically minimizing visual impact.
Even out at sea, wind speeds vary, and with them the amount of power wind turbines can produce. That’s why energy grids are supplied by a mixture of different sources, meaning that there’s always something producing power.
Can offshore wind and commercial fishing coexist?
Offshore wind already coexists successfully with maritime and fishing industries. An example of this is at Block Island, off the coast of Rhode Island, where commercial and recreational fishermen are able to navigate in and around the wind turbines without conflict to their fishing areas.
In New Jersey, the Ocean Wind 1 team understands the cultural and economic importance of fishing grounds – that’s why Ørsted has a dedicated Marine Affairs team working closely with the local fishing industry throughout the process of developing, building and operating offshore wind farms.
In addition to undertaking environmental assessments when determining the siting and layout of a wind farm, feedback from the local fishing community is also considered. This input gathered by fisheries liaisons helps inform the development of wind farms on items like turbine placement and layout.
It may not be obvious from a distance, but the wind turbines in an offshore wind farm are spaced widely in a grid pattern, with two distinct lines of orientation. The wind turbines are lit and marked in accordance with guidance from the U.S. Coast Guard, and their position is reflected accurately on nautical charts.
All of this allows mariners to navigate and fish within the wind farms, except in discreet areas that are restricted during the construction phase of the project. Once operational, wind farms are closely monitored to mitigate any possible impacts on the marine environment, including commercially important species and habitats.
Do wind turbines hurt birds?
Wind turbines have received a lot of attention as a cause of death for birds. While it is true that some birds die every year by flying into turbine towers or blades, the actual numbers are very small, and much smaller than other causes of bird deaths such as domestic cats and stationary buildings. In the United States, studies have shown onshore wind energy facilities cause less than one in 4,000 bird deaths from industrial activities.1 In fact, a study in the UK observed only six bird deaths in an offshore wind farm over two years.2
While the number of birds impacted by offshore wind turbines may already be small, Ørsted is committed to ensuring activities related to the further development of offshore wind pose as minor a threat to birds as possible.
Before any projects are constructed, environmental impact assessments are conducted. Among other things, this includes investigating the possible effect a project may have on biodiversity, including birdlife. This assessment is submitted to the relevant planning and regulatory authorities, like the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, and where feasible, action is taken to mitigate predicted impacts as much as possible. Continued monitoring takes place throughout the operational life of the wind farm for any impacts to the avian population.
Can wind turbines be recycled?
A modern wind farm like Ocean Wind 1 is designed to provide at least 25 years of reliable service at sea. When turbines reach their end-of-life, approximately 85 to 95% of the materials that make up the turbines – mostly steel – are able to be recycled.
The turbine blades, however, are more difficult to dispose of. They’re designed to be lightweight but highly durable and are usually made of fiberglass or carbon fiber held together with resin. This cannot be easily or efficiently broken down for recycling.
Nonetheless, with the one wind farm Ørsted has decommissioned so far, Vindeby in Denmark, 98% of the composite material was either recycled or used for research or exhibition, including all the turbine blades.
In June 2021, Ørsted announced that we would no longer send any blades to landfills, instead committing to reuse, recycle or otherwise recover all blades from newly decommissioned onshore and offshore wind farms. If it takes longer than anticipated to find recycling solutions that are both environmentally sustainable and commercially viable, Ørsted will store any decommissioned blades temporarily to save them from landfills.
What is the carbon footprint of offshore wind?
Manufacturing and constructing components, such as turbines for offshore wind farms, do produce some emissions. But these are very small in comparison to emissions from fossil fuels – and vastly outweighed by the emissions saved by using offshore wind instead of fossil fuels.
Most of these emissions only need to happen once for each wind turbine, which will be in service for at least 25 years. During this time, they will be producing electricity without emitting any more carbon dioxide, except for those from the vessels used for service and maintenance.
When calculating the total emissions associated with a wind turbine, versus fossil fuel power generation, the difference is remarkable. For instance, emissions from fossil fuel generation is 144 times greater
than offshore wind. In other words, switching from coal-fired generation to wind power can reduce the carbon emitted by energy production by more than 99%.3
Do wind farms impact property value?
Offshore wind farms are generally located far out at sea with very little impact on the view. In these cases, studies reveal that offshore wind has little to no influence on property prices.
In 2018, a large-scale study analyzed the impact of onshore and offshore wind turbines on the value of nearby residential and vacation properties in Denmark, a country that has had offshore wind for 30 years.4 It concluded that having an ocean view that included a wind farm had no significant impact on property prices, in comparison to having a sea view without a wind farm.
The study included two Danish offshore wind farms that are relatively close to the shore – Nystad at 2.2 miles and Rødsand at 5.6 miles. In neither case were property prices affected by the presence of offshore wind farms. By comparison, Ocean Wind 1 will be 15 miles from the shore at its closest point, making it less visible from oceanside properties.
Do offshore wind farms harm tourism?
Offshore wind has only recently arrived in the U.S. From what is known so far, there is no reason to fear that it puts tourists off visiting the ocean.
Recent research from the University of Delaware shows that when it comes to offshore wind and beach experience, distance is everything. Only one in 10 beachgoers said the presence of an offshore wind farm 20 miles from the shore would detract from their beach experience.5
Ocean Wind 1 will be 15 miles from the shore, so we expect the vast majority of beachgoers in the area to feel that their beach experience is unaffected.
1) U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Threats to Birds: Migratory Bird Mortality – Questions and Answers 2) Carbon Trust, 2018, Pioneering study finds seabirds avoid offshore wind turbines much more than previously predicted 3) Siemens Gamesa 4) Jensen et al., 2018, The impact of on-shore and off-shore wind turbine farms on property prices 5) Energy News Network, 2020, Study: Offshore wind farms won’t keep most people from enjoying the beach