A European offshore supergrid – with interconnections between European countries and to offshore wind farms in Europe’s seas – is the vision, but there are big and significant barriers to achieving that vision.
‘We don’t have an interconnected European network today, and we don’t have an offshore grid,’ Ana Aguado from Friends of the Super Grid said today at OFFSHORE 2011 in Amsterdam, outlining the problem in a nutshell. ‘There can be no transition [to a renewable electricity sector] without transmission,’ Eddie O’Connor from Mainstream renewable power said referring to the significant need for grid infrastructure.
Cost cutting, calls for innovation in the industry and calls for industry cooperation across Europe – these were just some of the hot topics at the opening session of the European Wind Energy Association’s OFFSHORE 2011 conference and exhibition in Amsterdam today. Ian Marchant, CEO of SSE Renewables and chair of OFFSHORE 2011 said that the offshore wind industry is now growing up. It was born five years ago and now, with 140 GW online, planned or consented, the industry is entering a new phase. ‘But we need to be bolder’, Marchant said.
Offshore wind energy is widely seen as a secure, reliable energy source that can provide answers to today’s climate change and energy security threats. This week the strength of the industry will be evident in Amsterdam as delegates begin to gather for the world’s largest offshore wind energy conference and exhibition.
Packed with informative sessions on topics ranging from the cutting-edge turbine technology of the future to the nitty-gritty of offshore electricity grid planning, the conference will cover all the issues the offshore sector faces today.
As people begin gathering at next week’s OFFSHORE 2011 conference in Amsterdam, it’s a safe bet that some conversations will focus on a just-released book by the International Energy Agency (IEA) which says wind power and other renewables are now the fastest-growing sector of the energy mix.
The book — Deploying Renewables 2011: Best and Future Policy Practice — adds that wind power and other renewables offer great potential to address issues of energy security and sustainability, but their rapid deployment is also bringing a host of challenges.
The sea may seem like a vast and empty place, but it is a potential conflict zone for the many sea-users. From fisheries to oil and gas, tourism to offshore wind energy, shipping lanes to military zones, sea space has many people vying for its use – and these conflicting interests will be the subject of a stimulating debate chaired by Anne-Bénédicte Genachte, EWEA’s regulatory affairs advisor at OFFSHORE 2011.
“Proper maritime spatial planning brings multiple benefits,” Genachte says, including reducing the time needed for permitting procedures, providing investors with certainty and reducing the costs of offshore projects.
Genachte is looking forward to discussing all the issues surrounding maritime spatial planning at her session alongside expert speakers from the European Commission, SEANERGY 2020 and E.ON among others.