Offshore wind—technology
Produced in partnership with WSP Environmental
Offshore wind—technology

The following Energy practice note produced in partnership with WSP Environmental provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Offshore wind—technology
  • What is offshore wind?
  • Offshore wind turbines components
  • Technical characteristics
  • How they work
  • Where they work
  • Feasibility criteria
  • Key conditions for development
  • Economics and costs
  • More...

Offshore wind—technology

What is offshore wind?

Offshore wind refers to wind turbines that are installed in bodies of water, typically the sea. Wind turbines harness the energy of moving air to produce electricity. Offshore wind has the capacity to generate higher volumes of electricity due to more consistent wind speeds occurring offshore compared to on land.

Although there are several similarities, offshore wind turbine technology is significantly different from land-based wind turbine technology.

Offshore wind turbines components

Early offshore wind farms used adapted onshore wind turbines; now offshore wind turbines are designed specifically for offshore deployment and have larger capacities than the largest onshore type, achieving 8MW (megawatts), as opposed to 3MW range onshore. There are currently larger onshore and offshore wind turbines under development and construction.

Similarly to onshore, the main components of an offshore wind turbine are blades that rotate around a horizontal axis connected to the hub, linked by a shaft to the nacelle, and the tower, which houses generator, see Practice Note: Onshore wind—technology.

Although horizontal axis models are the industry standard and make up the majority of existing offshore market, offshore wind turbines can be horizontal or vertical axis.

Vertical axis typology is still an experimental option. It can have the added advantage of a rotational symmetry that allows the turbine to be powered by the wind from all angles. In a vertical axis wind turbine, the

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