The next step for offshore wind energy
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.
- Floating turbine designs are cost-competitive with fixed-bottom designs in waters over 50m deep.
- If challenges are successfully met, deep water wind farms could be operating in four years’ time.
- Floating turbines in North Sea deep waters alone could power Europe four times over.
- Offshore wind in Europe could be providing 145 million households with renewable electricity and employing 318,000 people by 2030, while providing energy security, technology exports, and no greenhouse gases.
- If the requirements are met, the first full-scale deep offshore wind farms could be producing power by 2017.