Offshore wind - enormous potential!

Offshore wind has an enormous potential as one of the main energy sources in the near and distant future, there is enough offshore wind to cover the worlds entire energy need in 2050 and more. To illustrate, The North Sea can supply Europe’s entire energy need more than four times.


Gøril Gleditsch

Harvesting wind offshore has far more potential than onshore due to the stronger winds. This allows for higher potential of maximizing MW per installation, the turbine dimensions used offshore are twice the size compared to the ones in operation onshore. The development of even larger turbine sizes is moving ahead fast. The largest onshore wind turbine is a 5.3 MW turbine, offshore there are now turbine sizes up to 9.5MW installed and in operation. In the Port of Rotterdam, a 12MW wind turbine has been installed on a test site which is sufficient to power 16 000 households. This turbine size is estimated to be ready for commercial production by the end of 2021 for the offshore market.

In the shift towards a renewable future wind will become a key contributor. Many of the highly populated areas and major cities in the world are located close to a coastline where land is a scarce commodity. Wind energy is an opportunity for several developing areas to become less dependent on the import of energy and gives the community control over their own energy source. This could even out some of the differences in the world today, which is one of the UN sustainability goals “Reduce Inequalities”.

The winds are stronger and more stable the longer offshore you get, which drives the development of floating foundations. The levelized cost of energy (LCOE) for bottom fixed offshore wind is getting close to onshore wind, while scale floating wind will also see falling costs.

Renewable energy sources like solar-PV and wind turbines are not dispatchable; for renewables to achieve a broader reach of green energy several hurdles must be overcome. Renewables generate electricity depending on wind speed and solar insolation, even if the demand for electricity is not there or limited. Overproduction of renewables are solved today by curtailing generation, but shortage must be solved in other ways, often with fossil-based energy. 

Hydrogen can potentially solve all these obstacles and current limitations for renewables in the following ways:

  • Hydrogen can be stored.
  • Hydrogen can be transported, by sea and land.
  • Hydrogen can be used as fuel in industries that cannot be directly electrified.
     

Hydrogen can be the missing link for renewable electricity and could significantly expand the reach of renewable solutions and in turn increase market growth. 
 

There is nothing new about hydrogen as an energy carrier, it is well proven and applied on a small scale today. Hydrogen is a highly energy intensive fuel to produce, currently done with a high carbon footprint. With the falling price of renewable power, a viable solution for green hydrogen is now emerging. But most importantly, political willingness is emerging now. Incentives are being rolled out and money is invested into further development and scale production.

Norway has since the 1960’s built up a large industry in oil and gas. With an extensive knowledge base within engineering, development of cutting-edge technology, operation in the harsh offshore environment, now is the time to utilize this head start for developing the energy of the future. By actively going into the offshore wind market Norway can contribute to decarbonize the society and build on the already existing offshore competence. 

Norwegian companies are taking part in the current development of offshore wind but are falling behind due to the lack of a home market. A key to the success in Norway's oil and gas saga is the investment and development of the home market, driving up volumes and sharpening the competition.

High volumes and sharp competition are crucial to drive the cost for offshore wind down.

It is critical for Norway to utilize its head start and invest in offshore wind now to develop the competence and the sectors around the industry, otherwise the opportunity will be lost, most likely forever.

Fram Marine has extensive experience within floating concepts and development of offshore wind, and can assist and provide services related to:

  • Assessment of concepts
  • Technical validation or review of solutions
  • Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE) assessments
  • Project execution models
  • Project and engineering tools

     
    Sources: 
    https://www.iea.org/reports/offshore-wind-outlook-2019 
    https://windeurope.org/policy/topics/economics/ 
    https://www.portofrotterdam.com/en/news-and-press-releases/giant-wind-turbine-on-maasvlakte-2 
    https://www.ge.com/news/press-releases/ges-largest-onshore-wind-turbine-prototype-installed-and-operating-netherlands 
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