Offshore Wind Farms to Power 17% of Europe’s Electrical Needs in 2030

STOCKHOLM, Sweden, Sept. 16 (UPI) — Offshore wind farms could meet up to 17 percent of Europe’s electricity needs in 2030, an industry group said.

“Offshore wind power is vital for Europe’s future,” the European Wind Energy Association said in a report published at an offshore wind industry conference in Stockholm.

Currently, 11 wind farms harness the stronger winds at sea, mostly in Britain and Scandinavia. Together, they account for only 0.2 percent of Europe’s electricity demand, but that figure could be boosted to 10 percent in 2020 and up to 17 percent in 2030, EWEA said.

Offshore wind farms with a total capacity of 100 GW are currently being developed or proposed in most countries that have an Atlantic, North Sea or Baltic Sea coastline.

“If realized, these projects would produce 10 percent of the EU’s electricity whilst avoiding 200 million tons of CO2 emissions each year,” EWEA said.

The European Union wants to boost the share of renewables in its energy mix to 20 percent, a target it aims to meet in part with the help of offshore wind.

Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs promised in Stockholm that Brussels is “committed to doing everything we can to support offshore wind developers and make sure their … projects come to fruition.”

The EWEA wants the EU and national governments to support the creation of a functioning North Sea grid. Wind turbines at sea produce more power because of stronger winds, but turbine maintenance and getting the electricity back on land — via seabed cables — makes the source much more expensive.

On Monday, the association presented what it called an “offshore network development plan” for the construction of a transnational offshore power grid.

“EWEA’s new offshore network plan will provide a truly pan-European electricity super highway,” Christian Kjaer, CEO of EWEA, said in a statement. “This will bring affordable electricity to consumers, reduce import dependence, cut CO2 emissions and allow Europe to access its largest domestic energy source — offshore wind.”

The EU is currently drafting its own plan for a transnational grid, and it is expected that Brussels will call on utilities to share a large part of the costs.

The industry nevertheless believes that offshore wind will see similarly high growth rates that the onshore industry did over the past decade.

“There is huge developer interest in offshore wind power,” Arthuros Zervos, president of EWEA, said in a statement. “The scale of planned projects is far greater than most people realize.”

The world’s largest offshore wind farm, the $1 billion Horns Rev 2, is due to go into operation Thursday. Developed and built by Danish utility Dong, it consists of 91 Siemens-made turbines placed around 20 miles off the Danish coast. With its total capacity of 209 MW, the farm will produce power for an estimated 200,000 households.

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