As players in the US offshore wind industry work to complete the nation’s first commercial offshore wind project, a look at European development suggests one possible path for American offshore wind. A few observers point to the European programs as a model for U.S. development. European experience illustrates the technical and financial, feasibility of large-scale offshore wind.
A recent report by the European Wind Energy Association documents the growth of offshore wind in European waters in the first half of 2011. The European report presents a snapshot of the state of European offshore wind as of June 30, 2011. A few details from the report include:
3,429 MW total installed capacity in operation: 1,247 offshore wind turbines are fully grid connected with a total capacity of 3,294 MW. This capacity comes from 49 wind farms in 9 countries.
2,844 MW total installed capacity under construction: 11 wind farms are under construction in European waters. Of these, the UK is responsible for most growth in the first half of 2011. Seven projects are under development in UK waters. When all complete, they will add 2,238 MW of offshore wind capacity. Germany is second in terms of the size of projects under construction, with 448.3 MW of new offshore wind capacity.
101 turbines installed and grid-connected in the last 6 months. In the first half of 2011, 101 turbines came online, amounting to 348.1 MW of new capacity. This represents a 4.5% increase in new offshore wind capacity coming online over the same period of 2010. On average, each turbine added 3.4 MW of capacity, suggesting larger turbines are becoming preferred. Average capacity per new turbine in the first half of 2010 was 2.9 MW.
Example of a recent project: a recently-completed effort is Vattenfall’s 150 MW Ormonde project off England’s northwest coast. The Ormonde project includes 30 Repower 5 MW turbines. Offshore construction began last year, with the 30 Scotland-built steel lattice foundations installed last summer. Between March 23 and August 8, 2011, Vattenfall installed all 30 turbines and a substation. The project is now complete, and Vattenfall expects to begin producing power Summer 2011.
Floating platform tests in Norway: Commercializing deepwater offshore wind resources may require turbines on floating platforms. The first half of 2011 brought a milestone in that effort, with the installation of a Sway 0.015 MW floating turbine in Bergen, Norway. While the 15-kW turbine may not be cost-effective on a commercial basis, the developer sees the pilot project as a key stage in the development of a 10 MW floating wind turbine.
States, however, continue to examine the opportunities offered by offshore wind. Illinois, for instance, has passed a law creating a council to study offshore wind potential in Illinois’ Lake Michigan waters. Illinois House Bill 1558, passed both houses of that state’s legislature in May 2011 and has been signed by the Illinois governor. The bill initiates the Lake Michigan Offshore Wind Energy Advisory Council to examine criteria for:
- The Illinois Department of Natural Resources to apply in reviewing applications for offshore wind development of Lake Michigan lakebed leases;
- Identifying areas that are favorable, acceptable, and unacceptable for offshore wind development
- A process for ensuring public engagement in lakebed leasing
- Options for how the State shall be compensated for Lake Michigan lakebed leasing.
Filed Under: News, Offshore wind, Projects