Offshore wind farms have the wind in their sails
In May 2022, Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands and Belgium announced their plans to install almost 150 gigawatts of wind turbines in the North Sea by 2050, which is ten times the current installed power (source: lemonde.fr/planète/mai2022). Scotland awarded 27 GW of offshore wind power capacity through calls for tender in just one year. France alone is targeting 50 GW by 2050. The United States expects to have 30 GW of installed capacity by 2030… But what is behind this trend?
This rapid growth is due to the very promising potential of offshore wind power. Offshore wind farms offer some major advantages:
- They can harness the greater power and consistency of ocean winds,
- Their location at sea solves the problem of the limited space that is available in densely populated areas,
- Offshore wind farms can meet high demands for electricity,
- They contribute to the diversification of the energy mix, which is required to meet the demands for clean, carbon-free energy.
150 GW of installed offshore wind capacity = green electricity for 230 million households.
The conditions for a ramp-up
Currently, construction costs are the main obstacle to the deployment of offshore wind power. Offshore wind farms require high investment, particularly in the foundations and electrical connections. They also incur high maintenance costs. But these costs have already been cut significantly. The quest for sources of carbon-free energy, the worldwide geopolitical situation and the pressure on traditional fossil fuels also make offshore wind power a competitive option. Lastly, the impacts of wind farms on marine fauna and flora are being examined and data is being collected to gain more knowledge about these ecosystems and to minimise the impacts. But this sector already has sufficient experience to propose solutions, such as better soundproofing against construction noise by bubble walls, for example. Once in operation, offshore wind farms become sanctuaries for fauna.
Up to 60% more energy from offshore wind farms than onshore wind farms (source: ADEME, 2019).
Ocean Winds: the rising star of offshore wind power
- Creation of Ocean Winds (OW), a 50-50 joint venture between EDP Renovàveis and ENGIE.
- The company has a total of 1.5 GW under construction and 4 GW under development.
- The WindFloat Atlantic project (a pilot project for the development of floating wind power in Europe) comes on stream off the coast of Portugal, with three wind turbines and a total capacity of 25 MW.
- The SeaMade (Seastar and Mermaid) project starts up in the Belgian North Sea, with 58 wind turbines and a total capacity of 487 MW.
- The Moray East project starts up off the coast of Scotland, with 100 wind turbines and a total capacity of 950 MW.
- In 2021, Ocean Winds produced 1.5 GW of green electricity worldwide.
- The portfolio of projects doubles: NY Bight, KF Wind in Korea, Scotwind,
- Finalisation of the funding for the floating offshore wind farm in the “Golfe du Lion” (EFGL), a pilot project comprising three floating wind turbines in a marine national park.