R & D

Offshore wind power research

Vindeby offshore wind farm (NL)        Megawatt sized wind turbines, cheaper foundations and new knowledge about offshore wind conditions is improving the economics of offshore wind power.
        While wind energy is already economic in good onshore locations, wind energy is about to cross another frontier: the economic frontier set by shorelines. Researchers and developers are about to challenge conventional wisdom on electricity generating technologies: offshore wind energy is rapidly becoming competitive with other power generating technologies.

Offshore wind energy in Netherlands
        The Dutch policy on the use of renewable energy expresses the will to reduce the environmental impact associated with the growing consumption of fossil fuels. In particular in relation to the effect of CO2 on global warming. The Netherlands agreed in the Kyoto Protocol to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases in the 2008~2012 period with 6% relative to the 1990 levels.The route to reach this target combines energy saving and use of renewable energy. Wind energy has a contribution of 16% to the total production of renewable energy and thus also has to increase a considerable amount.
         Until 2001, approximately 493 MW wind power was installed inland, against 363 MW in 1998, a disappointedly low growth. The main reason for this low growth is that the process of obtaining construction license is extremely difficult. Since space will only become more scarce it is not realistic to expect the growth in renewable energy out of wind energy to come from inland wind turbines. The bulk of the required growth of wind power to 2750 MW will thus have to come from offshore locations.
         The Dutch government considers 6.000 MW to be developed in the North Sea by 2020, for which in principle enough potential space is available. offshore wind energy thus is a key component in the Dutch policy to increase the share of renewable energy.
         Besides this there are two other offshore projects that are worth mentioning here. The first to be considered is the Near Shore Wind Farm (NSW) situated off the coastal area near Castricum and Egmond aan Zee at a distance of at least eight kilometres from the shore in the territorial waters. We speak of near shore here because the turbines will be built in relatively shallow water close to the shore. This is to avoid technical-economic risks as much as possible. Its aim is to gain the knowledge and experience necessary for the construction and exploitation of large wind farms at sea. It's a one-time project which will be realised for a period of twenty years.
         The second offshore project to be considered is the Q7-WP which will be built 23 km from the coast of IJmuiden. It is being built by a belgium electrical company Electrabel. The park consists of sixty 2MW Vestas machines. In spite of the fact that the permits have been approved for quite some time now, the actual building of the offshore park will commence not earlier than 2006.
         The web site http://www.offshorewindenergie.novem.nl gives an overview of the developments around offshore wind turbine technology in the Netherlands. http://www.offshorewindenergy.org also gives some more information.

The Danish plan 21
        According to The Danish Governments' Action Plan for Energy, Energy 21 , 4,000 MW of offshore wind power should be installed before year 2030. With another 1,500 MW installed onshore Denmark will then be able to cover more than 50% of total electricity consumption by wind energy. In comparison, the current wind power capacity in Denmark is 1,100 MW (mid 1998).
        A total of 5,500 MW of wind power in the Danish electricity system means that the wind turbines periodically will cover more than 100% of Danish electricity demand. Therefore, the future Danish offshore power plants should be an integrated part of the Scandinavian electricity system, which is based on huge amounts on hydro power.

- Offshore Wind Energy in Europe: A Review of the State-of-the-Art