Some say that to think about the future, you have to look far out to sea. So-called offshore wind energy even promises to produce renewable energy for the entire world, according to a study by the Carnegie Institution for Science a few years ago.
What are we talking about? These are large wind farms with special wind turbines or wind turbines floating in the deep waters of the oceans.
"Offshore wind energy is considered a clean and renewable energy, since it depends on wind speed, which is clearly higher in places that have no obstacles such as trees, forests, mountains or buildings," explains Dr. Renato Hunter, vice chancellor of the Carnegie Institution for Science. Renato Hunter, academic vice-rector and professor of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the Universidad de La Frontera (Ufro).
Thus, several studies have determined that the potential of offshore wind energy could be five times greater than that produced by wind turbines on land.
Depth is key
This type of energy has existed for 30 years in Europe, North America and China. However, its greatest development has taken place in the last decade. Its advantages are centered on having a greater potential kinetic energy of the wind (or speed) and the minimization of obstacles that in some way diminish this speed.
"But offshore wind energy has some important disadvantages, such as the depth of the seabed, the distance to energy distribution centers, the inclement weather offshore and the difference in tidal height, among others," warns Professor Hunter.
And that is precisely why today the large projects of this type are located under certain conditions. For example, Europe is currently the leader in installations, followed by China, Taiwan and the United States, since there the depth of the seabed is low, which facilitates and breaks the barrier for these parks to have a technical and financial feasibility of exploitation.
In the case of our country -comments the academic-, although we have a coastline of more than 4,200 km, we have a shallow seabed.200 km, we have a deep seabed, which makes it difficult to use foundations for wind turbines and forces the installation of more expensive anchoring solutions.
"In Chile we still do not have installations of this level, mainly due to the complexity of the seabed of our coasts. However, there are some pre-feasibility studies in areas such as Talcahuano, Valdivia and Ancud, among others, that allow us to foresee that in the near future we will be able to have offshore wind farms on our coasts", says Renato Hunter.