To begin, some pros of offshore wind power are reduced energy imports, reduced air pollution and of course reduced greenhouse gas emissions. Although constructing offshore wind farms is currently the most expense form of energy generating technology according to the US Energy Information Agency, the stronger offshore winds are expected to make up this cost. There is also a more optimal time period of strong winds over water such as the afternoon, a time when people are consuming the most energy. Another benefit is large water bodies are in close proximity to large energy-consuming communities such as Chicago, where these turbines would greatly eliminate the need for importing energy from outside the city.
In theory these offshore systems seem to be a reasonable substitute for non-renewable energy forms but with the extensive start up cost these wind farms are not yet competitive with fossil fuels. The economic challenges of building an offshore system are significantly higher than onshore systems when looking at infrastructure, maintenance, and oversight. Another major issue with offshore wind farms is the infamous “NIMBY” dilemma standing for “Not in My Backyard”. Although citizens of Chicago may want to reap the benefits of clean air from a renewable source such as wind, they may not want to look out of their high-rise condos to see the beautiful Lake Michigan view with any obstructions. The Environmental Law and Policy Executive Director Howard Learner has spoken of this public opposition and said, “There’s a reason Chicago lakefront property is so valuable”. He continues to comment on the Midwest’s great opportunities for wind farms on land, where development of wind farms is much cheaper.
So for now, off shore wind farms are not planned for the future of Chicago, however as fossil fuels become more scarce, they might turn out to be a viable energy option.
Information and photos for this blog comes from TREEHUGGER: Click to read more on how advanced offshore wind farms are in the UK!