1. Skip to navigation
  2. Skip to content

Benefits of offshore wind in The Great Lakes.

To date, most of the existing offshore wind farms have been deployed in shallow ocean-coastal areas. Contrary to several misguided comments in the media by various officials, many offshore wind turbines have been installed in freshwater locations in Europe: in The Netherlands; in Sweden; in  The Baltic Sea; and, in other freshwater locations rapid development is taking place. Ontario cannot afford to become complacent and should be working with its offshore wind developers as is occurring in Germany, England, Scotland, Ireland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, China, the United States and many other countries.

The salinity of the ocean averages approximately 35%. The salinity of The Baltic Sea is 6% to 8%, and in the very large area referred to as the Gulf of Bothnia, the salinity is the same as freshwater in The Great Lakes. The Baltic Sea has a surface area of approximately 377,000 sq. km and an average depth of approximately 55 meters with many large areas having depths of 30 meters or less. The Great Lakes have a surface area of approximately 244,800 sq. km., which is 65% of the area of the Baltic Sea. There are approximately 85 million inhabitants in countries that border the Baltic Sea whereas approximately 95 million inhabitants are to be found in US Great Lake States or Ontario that border The Great Lakes.

The advantages of installing offshore wind farms in freshwater lakes and similar areas (such as the Baltic Sea) are showing to be significant.

First, offshore wind farms built in areas such as The Great Lakes will avoid the corrosive effects of saltwater exposure. This will likely prolong component lifetimes, which could reduce overall costs. What's more, neither tidal effects nor large waves will complicate their design and construction. While the Fukushima reactors were mostly destroyed by the strong earthquake and some of the backup systems by the tsunami, both offshore and onshore wind turbines continued to operate in a perfectly normal manner and generate much needed safe, clean and reliable energy for their province and country.

Offshore wind development in freshwater will also avoid many of the costs associated with complex foundation requirements and delays stemming from high seas and/or severe wave conditions common in the North and Baltic seas where the vast majority of existing offshore wind farms are located.

Meeting the challenge of freshwater ice

While some ice formation occurs in and around offshore wind farms in Europe, the coastal waters of The Great Lakes, particularly those of Lakes Superior, Erie, Huron and parts of Ontario, are prone to freezing during winter months. Lake Erie, for instance, freezes over completely.

Yet the challenge of ice formation is by no means unavoidable or insurmountable. Trillium Power's four developments, none of which are in Lake Erie, and all of which are all at least 10 km from shore and up to 70 km, will not face ice conditions comparable to those near shore. The centre of Lake Ontario has not frozen over in at least 40 years due to the fact that the deep water serves as a repository for the sun's heat from spring to autumn. Furthermore, Lake Ontario receives the greatest amount of fresh water inflow of all The Great Lakes, which greatly assists in reducing the formation of lake ice. 

In addition, Trillium Power also plans to erect specialized cones around the bases of its turbines designed to break up any drifting or pack ice. These are similar to reinforcements that have regularly been used on Arctic Ocean drilling rigs, as well as the pillars supporting Confederation Bridge, which connects New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island and many other locations.

Trillium Power has consistently set a high standard for Offshore Wind development.