On the Oregon coast, a federal agency has excellent plans for offshore wind energy. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management outlined their process in identifying locations for some genuinely massive wind turbines — the largest of which is taller than the Statue of Liberty and the Washington Monument at more than 850 feet. Not to mention the span of the whirling blades, which can be longer than a football field — in a June 23 presentation to the Curry County Board of Commissioners.
Offshore turbines are similar to onshore turbines in terms of operation, even though they are often much more significant. As they spin, the blades produce kinetic energy transformed to electrical power by a generator inside the turbine. Underwater cables deliver electricity to an offshore substation, which is then transferred to an onshore substation, where it is finally distributed to homes and businesses.
According to Whitney Hauer, a renewable energy specialist, the wind is more robust, and steadier offshore wind turbines can produce more energy than landlocked turbines. In shallow water, turbines are bolted to the ocean floor, while floating foundations are used in deeper water. Due to the severe drop-offs along the continental shelf, floating offshore wind technology will most likely be deployed on the West Coast.
Offshore wind turbines could be built anywhere between three and 300 nautical miles from the coast. The state of Oregon and the BOEM agreed to offshore wind energy planning in June of 2020. Since then, the BOEM has embarked on a multi-year planning process, which began with a phase of bulk data collection. They’re looking at many data, including potential human and environmental repercussions, natural disaster risk — like a tsunami — and wind speeds in certain regions, among other things.