How far offshore can we build wind farms? © Getty Images

How far offshore can we build wind farms?

Wind turbines currently need to be anchored to the sea floor, but floating turbines could be a game changer.

Asked by: Theresa Wilson, Newcastle


Sea depth is often the limiting factor when it comes to constructing offshore wind farms. Conventional turbines rest on the seabed and can’t be installed in water deeper than about 40 metres. In most regions this means they cannot be built more than 30km from shore. Floating wind turbines could, however, be a game changer. The floating turbines currently being installed at the Hywind wind farm near Peterhead in north-east Scotland can operate in water up to 1km deep. Such technologies could make it possible to build wind farms much further out to sea, where winds are typically stronger.


Subscribe to BBC Focus magazine for fascinating new Q&As every month and follow @sciencefocusQA on Twitter for your daily dose of fun science facts.