Offshore wind power: A key sector to the energy transition

By ENGIE - 07 September 2022 - 18:20

Why is offshore wind energy on the rise? How does it meet the desire of governments to be more energy independent while developing renewable energy? What are its assets? Grzegorz Gorski, Ocean Winds’ COO, looks back at the reasons for the success of this renewable energy.  


Offshore, onshore, what is the difference? 

Grzegorz Gorski: The energy generation logic is the same offshore and onshore, through the wind turbines. Offshore wind farms are located at sea, either fixed to the bottom of the seabed or floating with anchors. It's just a different location, depending on the space and concessions available.

What are the advantages of offshore production?  

GG: At sea, the winds are blowing strong, and in a continuous manner. Implementing windfarms at sea further from the coast and far from any kind of interference in the wind, means greater capacity of generation. It also holds less impact on the landscape as the wind farms are located further and further and beyond the horizon line. 

Offshore wind solutions therefore embody the ability to meet high demands in electricity and will also be crucial in generating the clean energy necessary for green hydrogen production. Offshore wind enters in the energy mix to reach the decarbonization goals, without losing capacity. That’s why offshore wind farms are seen as key to the energetic transition, towards a carbon neutral economy.  

There is currently a lot of talk about offshore wind power. Why such a craze?  

GG: In the current international context, countries are seeking to secure their energy capacity and limit their external dependence. Offshore wind energy (thanks to its great potential in terms of capacity and decreasing cost technology) is attracting attention at an international level. As an example, European Union pledges to reach 60 GW capacity of offshore wind by 2030. For those reasons, it's a more and more visible topic today. 


What are the expected impacts of an offshore wind farm?

GG: Besides from delivering clean energy, its main impact is in the creation of new supply chain opportunities for industrials companies while accompanying them in their transition to clean energy and, by extension, creating jobs. 

Developing offshore wind projects, we work on identifying the main socio-economic and environmental impacts, conscious that our projects need to coexist in the surrounding environment and economy. As Ocean Winds, with three projects in operations (Moray East, UK, bottom-fixed, 950 MW; Seamade, Belgium, bottom-fixed, 487 MW; and WindFloat Atlantic, Portugal, floating, 25 MW), we are now able to collect concrete data on biodiversity or environmental impact at sea, in order to minimize them. 

Monitoring environment around our projects on long term basis is critical, especially with a new technology such as floating, where baseline for impact assessment still lacks scientifically proven references. This monitoring doesn’t only focus on biodiversity, but also the human and their socio-economic activities such as fishermen or tourism as example. Taking the French EFGL floating project as an example, it will be the first floating windfarm installed in a Marine Protected Area.

How do you see the offshore wind sector evolving?  

GG: First, and for everything mentioned above, the sector will keep on growing: countries are increasing their targets and we are now able to develop offshore wind farms faster and with reducing costs. As Ocean Winds, we are investing or preparing to tender in countries where we are already present like the United Kingdom, France, or Poland. We are also looking to expand to new geographies: Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Lithuania and in southern Europe: Spain, Italy, and Greece. Outside Europe, we have projects in the US, Korea, Japan and Brazil. 
Second, we are also seeing a growing interest in the floating technology, now ready for commercial scale. Based on the proven technology and learnings from WFA’s experience of implementation and operation, we are inspiring more than one project around the world. With a 10 year long operational experience, we are ready for a full-scale commercial deployment.

Can you name a wind project using floating technology? 

GG: For instance, we have recently secured exclusivity development rights for KF Wind, a 1.2 GW floating offshore wind project in Ulsan, South Korea, on its way of being the world’s first large scale commercial floating wind project and with the objective of reaching FID in 2024. Ocean Winds is actively developing further opportunities for commercial floating projects, supporting the energy transition plan and bringing a great economic opportunity for the countries which embrace this new vector of the renewable energies. Not to mention our projects in Scotland


Offshore wind: assets and opportunities

  • A cleaner energy
  • A greater capacity of generation
  • The opportunity to fuel the green hydrogen industry/production
  • An efficient solution for states to gain energy independence 
  • A greener and specialized supply chain, with the emergence of new expertise and new jobs
  • An energy source that respects the local biodiversity, developing research and technologies that respect the fauna and flora
  • A perpetual source of innovation