An athlete swims past the Sheringham Shoal Offshore Wind Farm off the coast of Norfolk, England.
Mike Harrington

An athlete swims past the Sheringham Shoal Offshore Wind Farm off the coast of Norfolk, England. The wind farm consists of 88 Siemens 3.6 megawatt turbines placed over a 35-square kilometer area, 11 miles from shore.

Offshore Wind Turbines

Reduce SourcesElectricityShift Production
CO2 Equivalent
Reduced / Sequestered
Billion $US
Net First Cost
(To Implement Solution)
Billion $US
Lifetime Net
Operational Savings
Winds over sea are more consistent than those over land. Offshore wind turbines tap into that power to generate utility-scale electricity without emissions.

Solution Summary*

Wind energy is at the crest of initiatives to address global warming in the coming three decades. Investment in offshore wind was $29.9 billion in 2016, 40 percent greater than the prior year.

32 turbines—each double the height of the Statue of Liberty—have been installed off the coast of Liverpool, England. Owned by Lego, the toy maker, this is an international effort: The blades are made on the Isle of Wight by a Japanese company for its Danish client, Vestas. Each turbine generates 8 megawatts of electricity; together, they will supply all 466,000 inhabitants of Liverpool.

The wind industry is marked by a proliferation of turbines, dropping costs, and heightened performance. In many locales, wind is either competitive with or less expensive than coal-generated electricity—and it has no fuel costs and no pollution. Yet, not-in-my-backyard sentiment remains an obstacle in many places.

The variable nature of wind means there are times when turbines are not turning. Wind energy, like other sources of energy, is part of a system. Investment in 24-7 renewables such as geothermal, energy storage, transmission infrastructure, and distributed generation is essential to its growth.

* excerpted from the book, Drawdown

Offshore wind turbines growing from the current estimated 60 TWh, to 1,918-2,256 TWh by 2050, could avoid 10.4-11.4 gigatons of greenhouse gases emissions. This solution can deliver lifetime savings of $673-794 billion over three decades of operation associated with marginal first costs of $632-721 billion when compared to the use of fossil fuel plants.