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This Is Why Europeans Are Planning to Build a Man-Made Island

by Rick Anderson

The biggest variable in constructing wind farms is space. Not only does the area have to be large enough to outfit, often, thousands of turbines, but it has to be in a remote and windy location where it will not anger local residents. Such space is increasingly becoming more and more limited on land. Which is why some firms are looking offshore to find ways to provide electricity to their customers, and doing so in a way that meets the standards of the 2016 Paris climate accord.

Looking to our oceans for new wind farms makes sense on the surface, especially when one considers the fact that roughly 70 percent of the earth is covered by ocean water. Offshore wind farms, however, are not without their own set of issues. Not only do they need to be close to shore to involve less equipment (and less overall cost), but wind turbines create currents which suffer greater losses when transported over longer distances. Yet the Germany-based company TenneT seems poised to have found a solution that tackles all of the concerns associated with offshore wind farms: a 10,000-turbine complex built 60 miles off the coast of the United Kingdom.

Building wind turbines in shallower waters is more cost-effective for TenneT, the electrical company leading the proposal.

TenneT, which is a European electricity transmission system operator with offices in Germany and Holland, is planning to create the world's largest wind farm on a man-made island in the North Sea. The location, a region called Dogger Bank, is perfectly situated between the U.K., the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, and Germany. Tens of thousands of years ago, when sea levels were lower than they are today, Dogger Bank was actually connected to mainland Europe. That's why the shallow waters make the location even more desirable, as less sand and equipment will need to be used when constructing a man-made island. What's more, the base of a wind turbine must be driven into the ocean floor for stability. Naturally, this process becomes more difficult the deeper the water becomes. If everything goes according to plan, TenneT's wind farm could be sending energy into the homes of several European countries by 2027.

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