Offshore wind farms could deliver on renewable energy targets - but require investment in technology
Scramble to design supersized turbines to maximise wind power potential
1st March, 2011
Offshore wind power is crucial if the UK is to meet its renewable energy targets - but a lack of suitably powerful and reliable technology could hamper efforts, reports David Strahan
When Thanet wind farm off the Kent coast opened to great fanfare last September, it was no surprise that Energy Secretary Chris Huhne was there to cut the ribbon. At 300 megawatts (MW), Thanet is the world’s largest offshore wind farm, and offshore wind is central to Britain’s energy policy. The government is counting on it to deliver the bulk of its target to generate around a third of UK electricity from renewables by 2020 – a stretching six-fold increase from today.
Building wind farms offshore makes perfect sense: that’s where the wind blows hardest, and where turbines are least likely to raise NIMBY hackles. And the potential is vast. According to a report from the Offshore Valuation Group, a government-industry body, if Britain exploited just a third of the practical offshore resource by 2050, it could produce the energy equivalent of a billion barrels of oil, avoid over a billion tonnes of CO2, become a net electricity exporter and create 145,000 new jobs.
The prize is huge, but offshore wind is also fraught with difficulties. At sea, wind turbines are constantly battered by the stronger wind and the waves, which makes them more likely to break down and harder to fix...
To view the rest of this article - you must be a paying subscriber and Login
Using this website means you agree to us using simple cookies.