One of the world’s largest offshore wind farms came a step closer to reality in recent weeks as suction-installed foundations for the project left their Irish shipyard to begin their journey to the site of the Dogger Bank wind farm, 125 kilometres off the UK’s east coast.
The structures, known as bucket foundations, can reduce costs as there is no need for transition piece costs or additional grouting as would be the case for more traditional foundations.
They are literally gigantic steel buckets that will sink solidly into the sea floor using a suction method and jetting systems, as opposed to floating or more conventional monopole, jacket or tripod foundations which are generally tethered to the seabed. –
French ecology minister Delphine Batho
After months of uncertainty, French Ecology Minister Delphine Batho finally announced last week the second phase of a call for tenders for the construction of €3.5 billion worth of offshore wind farms to generate 1,000 megawatts of electricity.
The announcement followed up on a promise made by French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault during a government-hosted conference on the environment in September at which he and President François Hollande promised a plan to kick-start the renewables industry in France.
According to Batho, the projects will create 10,000 industrial jobs. The wind farms are planned for construction near Treport, in northern France, and near the Noirmoutier and Île d’Yeu islands on the Atlantic coast.
Siemens 75m turbine under construction
In the well known Greek myth, Icarus, attempting to fly with wings that his father had constructed from feathers and wax, ignores instructions not to fly too close to the sun, the wax melts and he falls into the sea and drowns. If the wind industry is to develop its full potential, it must ensure that the wings of its turbines are technologically advanced enough for them to be viable producers of energy both economically and sustainably. Feathers and wax will not do. Only the continuous improvement of rotor blades will allow the sector to tap into more moderate wind speed markets and enable off-shore wind farms to become truly cost effective.
Wind and other renewable energies must be given immediate priority over fossil fuels and nuclear power if the EU is serious about its commitment to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 80-95% by 2050, says a new report by the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF). Without such action the EU will only manage a 40% cut in emissions by 2050, warns the NGO.
“The spiralling economic, social and environmental cost of our current energy system, and the looming threat of climate change disaster, flip the burden of proof: anything other than sustainable renewables used efficiently should now have to justify their existence, not the other way around as has historically been the case,” says Jason Anderson, head of climate and energy at WWF’s European Policy Office.
The WWF logo
Recently some national governments in Europe have made changes to their support mechanisms for renewable energies that have created an environment of insecurity for the wind energy sector. However, a new report by the WWF says that such policies create needed certainty for renewable energy investors, backing up a view held by EWEA.
Uncertainty about future policy support for renewable energy in key markets such as the UK, Italy and France has contributed to a notable drop in investment levels across the EU. However, On Picking Winners, a report written by Dr Rob Gross of Imperial College London, argues that given the numerous benefits of renewable energy, it is vital that the EU and its member state governments provide the support needed to ensure it plays its full part in decarbonising the EU’s energy system.
“Without targeted and proportionate policies supporting our renewables industry, we will miss out on the opportunity rapidly to reduce the costs of emerging renewable technologies, and will fail to capitalise on the promising economic growth opportunities that the sector has to offer in the EU,” says Imke Lübbeke, Senior Renewable Energy Policy Officer at WWF European Policy Office.