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Published on September 15th, 2009 | by Zachary Shahan

10

Offshore Wind Energy Vital to the Future of Europe

September 15th, 2009 by  


A new report says that offshore wind “provides the answer to Europe’s energy and climate dilemma” and will soon provide Europe with about 10% of its electricity demand.

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Well, the report is by the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA), so it is not surprising that they think a form of wind energy is the future energy source for Europe. But the report includes a lot of compelling data and shows why offshore wind energy is such a promising source of energy for the future.

Great Demand for New Energy Sources in Europe

According to the European Commission, Europe’s power plants are getting older and, combined with growing demand for energy, Europe will need 360 GW of energy from new sources in the next 12 years — this is equal to 50% of current energy capacity in the EU. The EWEA thinks that 40 GW of this energy can be produced by offshore wind.

Offshore Wind Possibilities

Technically, the European Environment Agency (EEA) said (in another recent report) that offshore wind should be able to produce 6-7 times more electricity than the estimated demand by 2020 and 7 times more than the demand by 2030. However, taking economic advantages of various energy sources into account, they estimate that offshore wind could potentially provide Europe with 60-70% of its electricity demand by 2020 and 80% by 2030.

EWEA Target for Offshore Wind Energy Production

The EWEA’s target is to reach 40 GW of offshore wind energy by 2020 and 150 GW by 2030. Currently, more than 100 GW of offshore wind energy projects are proposed or being built by European wind energy pioneers and this alone should meet about 10% of the EU’s electricity demands and reduce CO2 emissions by about 202 million tons per year.

The Future

Europe seems to be planning for the EWEA’s goals and several things in 2010 are key to this offshore wind development and growth. The EWEA says that the European Commission will publish a ‘Blueprint for a North Sea Grid’ next year “making offshore wind power the key energy source of the future”; “ENTSO-E will publish its first 10 Year Network Development Plan, which should, if suitably visionary, integrate the first half of EWEA’s 20 Year Offshore Network Development Master Plan”; and the European Commission will publish its ‘Energy Security and Infrastructure Instrument’ which the EWEA says “must play a key role in putting in place the necessary financing for a pan-European onshore and offshore grid, and enable the European Commission, if necessary, to take the lead in planning such a grid.”

Offshore wind is moving ahead in Europe and it looks like it could be the leading source of renewable energy (or energy in general) in the future.

For more on wind power advancements, read:

1) Renewable Energy on the Rise, Fossil Fuels Declining

2) International Wind Power Business Acquisition — Confidence in the US

3) Green Jobs and Clean Energy: #1 Way to Lead the World

Image Credit 1: phault via flickr under a Creative Commons license

Image Credit 2: Keith Marshall via flickr under a Creative Commons license






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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession and Solar Love. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, and Canada. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in. But he offers no professional investment advice and would rather not be responsible for you losing money, so don't jump to conclusions.



  • Rif

    @Edouard Stenger

    “But one should not forget that wind turbines work only a quarter of the time approximately. So we need clean energy to meet energy demands the rest of the time.”

    Placing a wind turbine where the wind only blow a quarter of the time would be a very badly chosen location.

    The wind blow more often than this, but it may blow with less than maximum strength. That means the wind turbine will be generating power more often than you state but at a lower power level.

    Stating capacity factor for a wind turbine at a given location gives an average over time of the percentage of maximum rated power. Depending on location a wind turbine will give 25% – 40% of its rated power, with 40% at off-shore locations.

    Note that all power plants have capacity factors less than 100%. Hydro plant are typically 25% – 60% because there is not enough water to run them at maximum power all the time. However we can control the water flow and that makes them a good combination with wind energy where we know the average power generation over time but cannot control when it arrives.

    “Denmark gets 13 percent of its electricity demand by wind, yet it has one of the most polluting electricity generation of the European Union with 881 grams of CO2 per kWh.”

    This comes from that Denmark has traditionally relied on coal fired power plants. It is worth noting that Danish power plants besides the electricity generation use the waste heat for district heating. In many other countries the heat is simply wasted in cooling tower and rivers.

  • Rif

    @Edouard Stenger

    “But one should not forget that wind turbines work only a quarter of the time approximately. So we need clean energy to meet energy demands the rest of the time.”

    Placing a wind turbine where the wind only blow a quarter of the time would be a very badly chosen location.

    The wind blow more often than this, but it may blow with less than maximum strength. That means the wind turbine will be generating power more often than you state but at a lower power level.

    Stating capacity factor for a wind turbine at a given location gives an average over time of the percentage of maximum rated power. Depending on location a wind turbine will give 25% – 40% of its rated power, with 40% at off-shore locations.

    Note that all power plants have capacity factors less than 100%. Hydro plant are typically 25% – 60% because there is not enough water to run them at maximum power all the time. However we can control the water flow and that makes them a good combination with wind energy where we know the average power generation over time but cannot control when it arrives.

    “Denmark gets 13 percent of its electricity demand by wind, yet it has one of the most polluting electricity generation of the European Union with 881 grams of CO2 per kWh.”

    This comes from that Denmark has traditionally relied on coal fired power plants. It is worth noting that Danish power plants besides the electricity generation use the waste heat for district heating. In many other countries the heat is simply wasted in cooling tower and rivers.

  • Rif

    Indeed Europe is progressing strongly in off-shore wind power development. Today 2009-09-17 Denmark opened Horn Rev 2 with 209 MW, the new world largest off-shore wind farm.

    http://en.cop15.dk/news/view+news?newsid=2117

  • Rif

    Indeed Europe is progressing strongly in off-shore wind power development. Today 2009-09-17 Denmark opened Horn Rev 2 with 209 MW, the new world largest off-shore wind farm.

    http://en.cop15.dk/news/view+news?newsid=2117

  • Interesting post, thanks !

    I really appreciate wind energy and think this expansion is good news.

    But one should not forget that wind turbines work only a quarter of the time approximately. So we need clean energy to meet energy demands the rest of the time.

    Denmark gets 13 percent of its electricity demand by wind, yet it has one of the most polluting electricity generation of the European Union with 881 grams of CO2 per kWh.

    The EU average is of 353 grams. France, in comparison produces only 83 grams per kWh thanks to nuclear and hydro. Japan and the United States are around 600 grams per CO2 per kWh.

    So wind should be complemented by clean coal with CCS (if it comes one day) and we should keep in mind that we need other low carbon energy sources.

  • Interesting post, thanks !

    I really appreciate wind energy and think this expansion is good news.

    But one should not forget that wind turbines work only a quarter of the time approximately. So we need clean energy to meet energy demands the rest of the time.

    Denmark gets 13 percent of its electricity demand by wind, yet it has one of the most polluting electricity generation of the European Union with 881 grams of CO2 per kWh.

    The EU average is of 353 grams. France, in comparison produces only 83 grams per kWh thanks to nuclear and hydro. Japan and the United States are around 600 grams per CO2 per kWh.

    So wind should be complemented by clean coal with CCS (if it comes one day) and we should keep in mind that we need other low carbon energy sources.

  • Rich

    BTW, if anyone is wondering what those towers are on the horizon in the first pic, they are WW2 anti-aircraft platforms in the Thames called Maunsell Forts – the Thames provided an AA-free path from occupied Europe to London during the war, so these towers were built.

  • Rich

    BTW, if anyone is wondering what those towers are on the horizon in the first pic, they are WW2 anti-aircraft platforms in the Thames called Maunsell Forts – the Thames provided an AA-free path from occupied Europe to London during the war, so these towers were built.

  • Don Pedro

    I think this is totally realistic. In many ways, the real risk is not on the horizon to 2020 or 2030, but beyond that. As EWEA points out, the EU needs a “super-grid” for balancing power between its regions, and that has to happen in the next 20 years. If it takes 40 years instead, wind energy will become increasingly hard to integrate into the electricity systems.

    With companies such as Seatower now addressing the dependence on installation vessels and with new turbine manufacturers entering the market (ref. GE/Scanwind), the grid is now the biggest long term concern regarding offshore wind.

  • Don Pedro

    I think this is totally realistic. In many ways, the real risk is not on the horizon to 2020 or 2030, but beyond that. As EWEA points out, the EU needs a “super-grid” for balancing power between its regions, and that has to happen in the next 20 years. If it takes 40 years instead, wind energy will become increasingly hard to integrate into the electricity systems.

    With companies such as Seatower now addressing the dependence on installation vessels and with new turbine manufacturers entering the market (ref. GE/Scanwind), the grid is now the biggest long term concern regarding offshore wind.

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