Floating Offshore Wind Turbines Could Meet EU Electricity Demands 4x Over, According To New Report

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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 R&D.”

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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James Ayre

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

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