In the world’s search for feasible alternative energy, wind power has offered the most promising and realistic solution. To capture the incredible strength of the wind requires space devoted to wind turbines, known as wind farms. Wind farms are visually controversial, and people passionately debate whether turbines are graceful suggestions of progress or simply hideous to the eye. Debaters on both sides agree, however, that the dove-like offshore wind farms are significantly prettier.
Since offshore wind farms can take advantage of the strong winds flying over the ocean, they are considerably more effective than land wind farms, capturing nearly 50% more power. Offshore wind farms are less contentious than land wind farms, permits for which can be extremely difficult to obtain.
Many people – even the most avid supporters of alternative energy – do not want wind turbines in their backyards. Offshore wind turbines are much more tolerable. They rest far enough offshore that they are visually neutral, and when they are seen, viewers can enjoy the harmony of the clean white propellers against a backdrop of ocean blue.
In the 1980s, when awareness of global warming began to spread, the Danish government examined its population’s carbon emissions and was disappointed that it had one of the highest rates per capita in the world, primarily due to its coal producing industries. Immediately, the Danes sought to make environmental amends by making conservation a priority over economic or lifestyle change concerns.
Today, Denmark is a leader in world wind power. Twenty percent of energy consumed by Danes derives from wind energy, and citizens are given tax breaks in proportion to how much wind energy they use. Half of the wind turbines used globally are produced in Denmark. These figures prevail despite Denmark’s mere average wind resources. The Danes are so ambitious with their wind energy plans that they want enough wind farms by 2030 that can produce 4000MW of energy. Currently, Denmark’s largest wind farm only produces 160MW.
In 2002, the Danes continued their reputation for being the world’s most environmentally conscious wind capturers by developing the world’s largest offshore wind farm. Built in the North Sea, where the strongest winds of Denmark blow, Horns Rev, or Horns Reef, is an efficient expanse of 80 wind turbines.
Horns Rev all-inclusively energizes 150,000 households. The turbines are laid out in a rectangular shape 14 km offshore, the dimensions of which are 5 x 3.8 km. Between each turbine is a distance of 560 meters. In order to perform necessary maintenance operations on the wind turbines, workers are helicoptered above, and descend down to the stations by rope.
Aesthetically, Horns Rev is as elegant as a wind farm can be. The symmetrical formation of the turbines make them look neat and orderly – unimposing on the seascape. At night, with a setting sun behind them, the wind turbines become silhouettes of what could be mistaken as giant sunflowers. During the day, the steady winds push the turbines’ blades in a slow rotation that yields powerful energy. Wind farms are man’s liaison to nature – majestic complexes that can listen to the wind in a way we cannot do directly. Horns Rev is expected to be expanded over the next few years, adding more environmentalist beauty to the sea.