Floating Offshore Wind Turbines Could Meet EU Electricity Demands 4x Over …

July 31, 2013 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

Clean Power
The world’s first full-scale floating wind turbine, Hywind, being assembled in the Åmøy Fjord near Stavanger, Norway in 2009, before deployment in the North Sea.Image Credit: Hywind Floating Wind Turbine via Flickr CC

Published on July 31st, 2013
by Nathan


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The European Union’s total electricity usage could be met — actually, it could be exceeded more than four times over — by floating offshore wind farms in the deep waters of the North Sea, according to a new report from the European Wind Energy Association. The report also urges the EU to set new renewable energy targets for the bloc, for the year 2030.

The report makes the argument that floating wind turbines — and/or other wind turbines specifically adapted to the deep waters of the North Sea — should be an important part of EU energy infrastructure in the future. According to the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA), regardless of development costs, floating turbines — as a result of their greatly decreased use of steel — are cost-competitive with conventional turbines that are installed in waters deeper than 50 meters. The report makes the assertion that if the right policies are put into place now — to spur the development and implementation of next-generation floating turbines — total EU offshore wind capacity could reach 150 GW by the year 2030.

floating wind turbine

“The world’s first full-scale floating wind turbine, Hywind, being assembled in the Åmøy Fjord near Stavanger, Norway in 2009, before deployment in the North Sea.”
Image Credit: Hywind Floating Wind Turbine via Flickr CC

Business Green has more info on the new report and the wind energy situation in Europe today:

“The EU currently operates at least 5 GW of offshore wind capacity, at least 3.3 GW of which is located in UK waters. However, the EWEA believes European capacity could reach 150 GW by 2030 if the right policies are put in place to support the industry and accelerate the development of floating turbines.

“The European Commission is due to present its proposals for the 2030 energy and climate framework later this year, which could include targets covering carbon emissions, renewable energy and energy efficiency.”

There’s some significant opposition to the adoption of new renewable energy targets, though. Some of those opposing such targets, such as the UK, argue that it’d be a far better choice to simply set a strong emissions target and then allow countries to work out the details on their own, choosing the solutions that are best suited to their individual situations.

The counterargument — according to Jacopo Moccia, the head of policy analysis at EWEA — is that a 2030 renewable energy target is necessary in order to drive faster development of the offshore wind industry. He stated: “To allow this sector to realize its potential and deliver major benefits for Europe, a clear and stable legislative framework for after 2020 — based on a binding 2030 renewable energy target — is vital. This must be backed by an industrial strategy for offshore wind including support for RD.”

In related news, noted wind turbine manufacturer Gamesa recently made the announcement that it had finished installing its first offshore wind turbine in Spanish waters. The new 5 MW turbine was installed in Arinaga Quay in Gran Canaria. It possess a rotor diameter of 128 meters, with the potential to provide electricity for somewhere around 7,500 households.

As Josh wrote yesterday, ”Gamesa is proud of their new prototype, describing the turbine as having a ‘modular and redundant design, which ensures reliability and maximizes energy output, optimizing the cost of energy’.”

For more information and recent news about more innovative but still nascent floating wind turbines featured in the EWEA article, see:  Floating Wind Turbines In Scotland Get £15 Million.

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  • What’s the potential for European offshore wind? Is it possibly 4x 3,180,000 GWh per year? If so, the title is correct.

    150 GW by 2030 would be a measure of only the nameplate capacity in place by that date. Not what would possible to build. That’s assuming the world continues past 2030, of course.

    Nameplate vs. output capacity. It looks like current technology is returning capacity number higher than 40%.

    It seems to me that an earlier study found that the UK had massive amounts of offshore wind potential. I’ll try to find it again.

  • First reference I found (eurostat) was EU-27 was 3.18 million gigawatt hours (GWh) in 2010 (3,180,000 GWh per year)

    150GW*365.25(days/year)*24(hour/day) = 1,314,900 GWh per year at 100% (I think we can all agree that is a bit high even for off shore wind).
    Now even assuming that EU does a lot of efficiency improvements by 2030, the 150GW will not be 4x the demand.

    Or maybe it is just badly written, they expect 150GW with current policies, but a boat load if the policies change. Or maybe they are just talking about what isn’t covered by PV and geothermal.

  • Where did the article’s headline come from? It’s misleading at best and untrue at worst. In 2010 the EU installed capacity was 870GW, according to the first link I clicked on Googling ‘eu electricity demand 2011 GW’ which seems like a reputable source. So barely 1/6 of the EU demands in 2010 could be met even installing all 150GW of capacity, and at what price? It’s still a huge amount of electricity, so there’s no need to mislead the reader.

    • $150MWhr? Can’t be cheap.

      • Where did you get $150MWhr?

        • Ballpark based on my interaction with some offshore wind developers. What do you think it will be on a full cost basis with a reasonable return?

    • The North Atlantic ocean is like 50,000,000 square kilometers so floating wind turbines could supply maybe 2,000 times Europe’s electricity demand. The four times demand figure comes from throwing a bit of realism in there.

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