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    Founding Editor Herman K. Trabish



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  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: The Conundrum Of Controlling Rates With Rising Costs
  • The Fight For Tomorrow’s Grid Gets Bigger

    Monday, August 26, 2013


    Deep Water; The Next Step for Offshore Wind Energy

    July 2013 (European Wind Energy Association)

    Executive Summary

    Europe’s seas and oceans are rich in opportunities and sources of employment for our economy. Covering around 70% of the surface of the Earth – the ‘blue planet’ - their potential for economic growth and competitiveness needs to be tapped. However, this will not happen without proactive thinking from European and national decision makers. They must develop a dynamic maritime and research agenda to support what is known as the ‘blue economy’.

    Offshore wind is a strong asset in the European maritime economy. Employing 58,000 people in 2012, it is a promising industry with the potential to transform and decarbonise the electricity system. It can create considerable economic growth that benefits the whole of society as well as maritime regions and other maritime sectors.

    It is still a young technology facing considerable challenges. Political and economic support is needed for large scale deployment, so a European industrial strategy should be developed to ensure that offshore wind can meet its potential.

    Offshore wind is one of the fastest growing maritime sectors. Its installed capacity was 5 GW at end 2012, and by 2020 this could be eight times higher, at 40 GW, meeting 4% of European electricity demand. By 2030, offshore wind capacity could total 150 GW, meeting 14% of the EU’s total electricity consumption.

    However, for this to happen, a supportive legislative framework is needed, and new offshore designs must be developed for deep water in order to tap the large wind potential of the Atlantic, Mediterranean and deep North Sea waters. Current commercial substructures are economically limited to maximum water depths of 40m to 50m. The ‘deep offshore’ environment starts at water depths greater than 50m.

    This report is based on the work of the ‘Deep offshore and new foundation concepts’ Task Force, part of the European Wind Energy Association’s (EWEA) Offshore Wind Industry Group. The Task Force evaluates the current situation and the steps that are needed for the large scale deployment of deep offshore wind energy.

    Between October 2011 and June 2012, 16 leading European companies researching or operating deep offshore projects met to identify challenges and provide recommendations to the industry and policy makers.

    The analysis found that:

    • Deep offshore designs are necessary to unlock the promising offshore market potential in the Atlantic, Mediterranean and deep North Sea waters.

    • Deep offshore designs constitute an export opportunity. As deep offshore capacity increases, expertise, skills and technologies developed in Europe can be exported across the globe, initially to Japan and the US.

    • The energy produced from turbines in deep waters in the North Sea alone could meet the EU’s electricity consumption four times over.

    • Deep offshore designs are competitive in terms of the levelised cost of energy (LCOE) with bottomfixed foundations in more than 5Om water depth. The technology is still at a very early stage of development and in order to achieve commercial and large-scale deployment, the sector must overcome technical, economic and political challenges.

    • If the challenges are overcome, the first deep offshore wind farms could be installed and grid connected by 2017…

    Market Outlook

    At end 2012, there was just under 5 GW of installed offshore wind energy capacity in Europe. A further 4,460 MW were under construction and around 18,000 MW consented.

    EWEA forecasts that by 2020, 40 GW offshore wind capacity could be operational in European waters, producing 148 TWh provided that the right framework conditions are in place. This is enough to power the equivalent of 39 million households. By 2020 offshore wind will represent 30% of the new installation annual wind market.

    Up to 2020, most of these developments will remain in the North Sea and Baltic Sea. Analysis of the consented wind farm pipeline shows that 62% of total consented capacity is in the North Sea. The Mediterranean could begin exploiting its offshore potential (8% of consented capacity) in that time frame, along with the Baltic Sea (21% of consented capacity).

    By 2030, EWEA forecasts 150 GW of installed offshore wind capacity, enough to power 145 million households. Offshore wind will represent 60% of the new annual installations, exceeding the onshore market.

    EWEA has identified 141 GW of projects in European waters, which are either online, under construction, consented or planned. Of these, 22 GW (16%) will be in the Atlantic and 16 GW (11%) in the Mediterranean Sea, where waters are typically deeper. To exploit this potential in the Atlantic, Mediterranean and deeper parts of the North Sea such as the Norwegian coast, deep offshore designs are required.

    Finally, by 2050 offshore wind could reach 460 GW, producing 1,813 TWh and contributing to a European power supply met 50% by wind. This exponential growth is only achievable through the deployment of deep offshore designs.

    Estimating the Potential

    Using only North Sea sites with water over 50m deep as an example, the potential for deep offshore wind energy is vast. 66% of the North Sea has a water depth between 50m and 220m and could therefore be used to deploy the deep offshore designs.

    For illustration purposes only, assuming 6 MW wind turbines, the energy produced in this area could meet today’s EU electricity consumption four times over.

    In 2050, using 10 MW turbines, the energy produced in this area could meet the EU’s electricity consumption by even more than four times over.

    If floating turbines in the North Sea alone can exceed Europe’s demand by this amount, the potential once suitable areas of the Atlantic and Mediterranean seas are included is many times greater.

    Portugal has a vast maritime area in the Atlantic, where winds are particularly strong and both France and Spain have deep waters close to shore in both the Mediterranean and Atlantic seas. There is, therefore, a huge potential for deep water offshore wind farms. Moreover, in all three countries, industry is developing (and testing in the case of Portugal) deep water concepts. In Malta plans for a deep water offshore wind farm at Sikka-l Badja have been drawn up as have plans for a floating wind farm of the Apulia coast in Italy, where, in 2008 a scaled-down floating turbine was tested off the port of Tricase…


    The following recommendations are based on the results of the analysis:

    Political recommendations:

    • A clear and stable legislative framework post 2020 based on a binding 2030 renewable energy target is needed to drive deep offshore wind development and deployment.

    • A cohesive European industrial strategy guiding offshore wind development is necessary. It will support deep offshore from R&D to deployment.

    • Licensing and permitting procedures should be simplified to minimise lead time deployment. The capacity of permitting bodies should be enhanced to handle the growth in deep offshore projects.

    • Public support for R&D should be increased to maintain European technology and market leadership in deep offshore designs.

    • Strong collaboration between the different players (and sometimes competitors) should be encouraged through new project partnerships. Exchange of experience and data is crucial and will benefit all stakeholders.

    • The European Wind Initiative (EWI), with the network and R&D forum TP Wind, should continue and be allocated sufficient funding to ensure their recommendations can be implemented.

    • New standards specific to wind floating systems must be developed to help reach commercial maturity.

    • Deep offshore projects with the correct risk perception should be ensured access to financing.

    Economic recommendations:

    • Ports must provide enough space to accommodate installation vessels and component storage.

    • Self-installing systems must be developed to minimise installation costs.

    • Suitable training courses should be developed to remedy the shortage of skilled professionals.

    Technical recommendations:

    • Modelling tools and numerical codes that simulate the whole structure’s behaviour should be developed and validated to improve design.

    • Wind turbine design and size must be optimised for use on floating support structures.

    • There is a need to develop sufficient and appropriate control systems.

    • More research must be done on mooring and anchoring systems. The industry could benefit from the experience of the oil and gas sector.

    • New measuring techniques and tools should be developed to assess the wind and wave conditions at wind farm locations.

    • More research is required into wake and turbulence effects and how they affect the load and motions of floating platforms. This can be achieved by deploying floating demonstration farms of around four or five units rather than exclusively single unit prototypes.

    • More test sites (small scale and large scale) should be developed to ensure the reliability and cost competitiveness of the deep offshore designs.


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