Growing interest in the rapidly-expanding offshore wind sector took a new twist earlier this week when the website of the influential US magazine Popular Science published an article featuring marine-based wind turbine concepts with “super-chic lofts for employees.”
The article said that a Bulgarian design firm predicts a future in which gigantic offshore wind turbines come equipped with futuristic housing for workers.
“Part of the inspiration for these lofts was a European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) report estimating that by 2030, there will be over 300,000 jobs in offshore wind power,” the article said.
In fact, the European wind industry faces a severe skills shortage of around 7,000 appropriately qualified staff per year. This shortfall could climb to 15,000 by 2030 — nearly 2% of the entire wind industry workforce — if numbers of suitable workers don’t increase.
The London Array, located in the Thames Estuary
The world’s largest offshore wind farm was opened last week in the Thames Estuary.
British Prime Minister David Cameron was among the dignitaries present at the inauguration of the 630 MW London Array last week.
Enthusiastically endorsing the first phase of the London Array, Cameron said the massive offshore wind farm represented a major win for renewable energy.
Poland could be adding €17.5 billion (PLN 73.8 billion) to its economy by 2025 if it develops its offshore wind energy sector to a potential six gigawatts, a new report by Ernst & Young has revealed.
The report, “offshore wind energy – analysis of benefits for the Polish economy and development determinants”, also said that the sector could potentially create 31.8 thousand new jobs from 2012-2025, mostly in the electro-engineering sector. Moreover, sectors badly affected by the economic crisis – maritime transport, shipbuilding and port industries – could gain five thousand new jobs by 2025, said the report.
Currently the country’s offshore wind energy target is for 500 MW by 2020, but the potential is far higher, says Wojciech Cetnarski, President of the Polish Wind Energy Association (PWEA). The 500 MW target “seems underestimated”. “Last year’s amendments to the legislative framework (the Act on Maritime Areas and Maritime Administration) increased the interest of national and foreign investors,” Cetnarski added.
6 GW of offshore wind power would also avoid the emission of around 40 million tonnes of carbon dioxide, creating a saving of €0.4 billion (PLN 1.6 billion), the report says.
Meanwhile, an expansion of Polish offshore wind is expected to reduce electricity production costs. Based on trends forecast in the UK, the cost of production of 1 MWh in offshore wind farms commissioned in 2011 is around €170, a level set to fall by 29% if the UK reaches 18 GW of offshore wind by 2020. “In the case of Poland, the decrease may be higher for the country has better natural conditions for the construction of offshore wind farms,” the PWEA press release said.
Attend EWEA OFFSHORE 2013 in Frankfurt this November to get the latest knowledge on offshore wind.
While the wind industry will never face the equivalent of a Deepwater oil spill or a Fukushima nuclear catastrophe, its spectacular growth rates over the last decade do mean there are more health and safety hazards.
An electrical fire can occur; heavy parts can fall from great heights; lifting huge unstable loads with cranes could go wrong; transferring workers from vessels to an offshore turbine in wavy conditions could be dangerous and, when an accident occurs in a remote wind farm, rescue can take longer.
Headlines in the German media have said recently that Germany’s offshore wind sector could be facing support cuts, on top of suffering from the already costly grid connection delays. So what is the future of German offshore wind power? We spoke to Andreas Wagner, CEO of the Offshore Wind Foundation (Stiftung Offshore-Windenergie) and part of the team negotiating with German Chancellor Angela Merkel to try and find out…
EWEA Germany’s Environment Minister Peter Altmaier has proposed to substantially change the law for financial support for renewable energy in Germany. Could the offshore wind industry be affected by the same retroactive changes we’ve seen in other EU countries?
Wagner On 21 March, Chancellor Angela Merkel discussed all options to change the EEG-law [the current law supporting renewable energy – ed] with the Prime Ministers of the 16 German Länder. As a result of this so-called ‘energy summit’, we will definitely not face retroactive changes for projects for which legally binding contracts have been signed. I doubt if other changes in the EEG will or can be made before the German federal elections in September.
EWEA What were the arguments raised with Chancellor Merkel?