Floating wind farms come of age

Floating wind farms can be used far away from shore and built larger than conventional offshore wind farms. The technology is now ready to be rolled out on an industrial, reports WindEurope. Costs are also expected to fall.

Floating wind farms could cover a significant portion of Europe’s electricity demand in the future. As WindEurope – the interest group of the wind energy industry – wrote in a report, Europe has a very high potential for floating offshore wind. At 4,000 GW, it is significantly more than the potential of the US and Japan combined.

Floating offshore wind projects can be much larger than conventional, fixed sites, and the construction, installation, operation and maintenance costs could also be lower, according to a WindEurope statement. Larger capacity would in turn lead to increased generation of electricity, allowing for cost reductions of 10 per cent by 2020 and 25 per cent by 2030.

One of the main benefits is that the turbines are located further away from shores in areas with much higher wind speeds. Developers can also make use of larger areas, thus avoiding wake effects from nearby wind turbines or other wind farms.

There are also considerable environmental benefits: floating offshore wind projects have a smaller impact on their environment when used far from shore as noise and visual pollution will be less of a concern in the deeper, remote offshore marine areas.

“Floating offshore wind is no longer an R&D exercise,” said Ivan Pineda, WindEurope director for public affairs. “The technology has developed rapidly in recent years and it is now ready to be fully commercialised at utility scale projects.”

The first floating wind farm, HyWind Scotland, will have a capacity of 30 MW and is expected to be commissioned off the Scottish coast later this year. Two other projects are expected to follow in Scotland in 2018. Floating offshore wind projects are also planned over the coming years in Portugal, France and Ireland.

According to the report, offshore as a whole could in theory generate between 2,600 TWh and 6,000 TwH, representing 80 to 180 per cent of Europe’s total electricity demand. This extra capacity is needed to help meet the goals set out in the Paris climate agreement, argues WindEurope.


Image credit: WindEurope


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