Renewable energy sources are considered to be a preferred alternative to conventional, fossil fuels, which, it is widely considered, contribute towards global climate change and air pollution.
Wind energy is currently the most popular form of renewable energy. As a result, the number of windfarms has increased in the last 20 years, firstly on land, then in the sea.
The first offshore wind farm (OWF) was installed in Denmark in 1991. Since then, more than 55 OWFs have become operational in 10 European countries. Of the world’s 25 largest OWFs, 22 are found in Europe.
Currently, Europe’s OWFs are found in the Baltic, Irish and North Sea. There are no OWFs in the Mediterranean and Black Sea.
While OWFs are spreading worldwide, their impacts on the marine environment and biodiversity are being researched.
In these pages, you can find information about some of Europe’s OWFs. More details on wind energy are given in the “Teachers’ zone”.
The UK is already the world leader in renewable energy from offshore wind farms (OWFs).
The UK is committed to reducing carbon emissions by 34% by 2020, and to have 15% of energy produced from renewable sources by 2015, and 20% by 2020.
July 2013 saw the opening of the world’s largest OWF ‘London Array’.
There are currently over 18 offshore wind farms in the UK, and the London Array is the biggest at 100 km2.
It is located in the outer Thames Estuary, 20 km off the Kent and Essex Coast.
Construction started in 2011 and electricity was being generated at the end of 2012, with the full site operational and formally opened in July 2013.
The London Array has 175 turbines (windmills) which can produce 3.6MW of electricity each, together they can generate 630MW of electricity. Enough energy to power half a million homes in the south-east of England. This OWF alone will reduce carbon emissions by 925,000 tonnes annually.
Click here to see from the top of an OWF!