Wind power, as a renewable source of energy, produces no emissions and is an excellent alternative in environmental terms to conventional electricity production based on fuels such as oil, coal or natural gas. At present, the vast majority of wind power is generated from onshore wind farms. However, their growth is limited by the lack of inexpensive land near major population centers and the visual pollution caused by large wind turbines. Comparing with onshore wind power, offshore winds tend to flow at higher speeds than onshore winds, thus it allows turbines to produce more electricity. Estimates predict a huge increase in wind energy development over the next 20 years. Much of this development will be offshore wind energy. This implies that great investment will be done in offshore wind farms over the next decades. For this reason, offshore wind farms promise to become an important source of energy in the near future. In this study, history, current status, investment cost, employment, industry and installation of offshore wind energy in Europe are investigated in detail, and also compared to its onshore counterpart. (C) 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.