The building of wind farms often comes with a certain amount of controversy. Although wind energy is clean, and construction of wind farms generates jobs, many people feel that living near a wind farm is less than ideal. Criticism ranges from the noise of the turbines to the potential hazard the spinning blades pose to birds, to the marring of scenery. Steady winds are also not always consistent on land, as they can be blocked by hills, trees, and buildings. Recently, the development of offshore wind power has been explored as an alternative to wind farms on land.

Image via hornsrev.dk

Offshore wind farms are large turbines built in open water, where the wind is more constant and the turbines pose less of an intrusion on people. Marine habitats, of course, must still be taken into consideration. Because of the generally higher wind speeds over water, offshore wind farms can generate much more electricity than their land-lubbing cousins. Of course, technological innovation is a must as developers contend with the challenges of building underwater.

There are currently several methods of constructing offshore turbines, and many more concepts are being tested. As of now, most of the offshore wind farms are located in Europe, with some of the largest offshore farms situated around the North Sea. Great Britain is leading in offshore wind development, with countries like Germany and Denmark following closely. In the US, debate still rages about offshore wind. Proposed wind farms in the Northeast, in areas like Rhode Island and Cape Cod, Mass., have run into opposition time and again, but it seems that offshore wind has a bright future. Check out some of the offshore wind farms in this week’s photo gallery by clicking on a picture below.

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