The Future of Wind Energy probably lies on the Water
But perhaps the future of wind energy doesn’t lie on land at all? When installing new capacities, more and more turbine manufacturers and electricity producers are drawn out to sea, where strong winds blow undisturbed across the water. Experts believe that wind turbines at sea generate around 20 percent more electricity than comparable turbines on land. Manufacturers are already pushing into incredible performance spheres with their offshore turbines. The international front-runner is a prototype from General Electric Renewable Energy: The Haliade-X-14 MW, equipped with three rotor blades, each 107 meters long, rises 260 meters into the air and generates a nominal output of 14 MW – one rotation of this turbine’s rotor is enough to supply a house with two days worth of energy. In fact, the European Union sees offshore technology as a major future component of Europe’s energy system. By 2050, the EU aims to install 300 GW of offshore wind power capacity using ground-based and floating turbines. So far, offshore turbines dominate at sea, anchored in shallower coastal waters up to 50 meters deep with elaborate foundations in the seabed. However, only about five percent of marine areas are suitable locations for these technologies. There are currently 12 GW installed with this technology in EU waters. In future, the electricity yield could be even better with floating wind turbines – they can be deployed at ocean depths no longer accessible to conventional offshore technology. At the moment, the portfolio of floating turbines is still manageable – the installed capacity in the EU is around 40 MW. However, several member states have already announced larger projects.
Overview: Important Offshore Projects yesterday, today and tomorrow
Alpha Ventus – The Age of Offshore Wind Energy began ten years ago
Alpha Ventus, the first offshore wind farm in Germany, went into operation in the German Bight back in the spring of 2010. The wind farm, installed at a water depth of around 30 meters and located 65 kilometers off the coast, consisted of turbines with a rotor diameter of 126 meters and a hub height of 93 meters. By 2019, the wind farm had fed as much electricity into the grid year after year on average as 57,000 average households in Germany consume. Currently, wind turbines with a capacity of around 6,700 MW are installed in the German Bight.
East Anglia One off the British East Coast – One of the largest Wind Farms in the World
One of the world’s largest offshore wind farms is located 43 kilometers off the British east coast on a level with the county of Suffolk. Covering an area of around 300 square kilometers, East Anglia One comprises 102 wind turbines with a rotor diameter of 154 meters and a total capacity of 714 MW. The turbines are located on a 65-meter-high, three-legged steel platform weighing over 800 tons, which extends 45 meters down to the seabed. East Anglia One was completed in July 2020 and is the first of four farms to be built in the region with a capacity of 3,500 MW.
Kriegers Flak off the Danish Coast – The largest Wind Farm in Scandinavia
Denmark commissioned the Kriegers Flak offshore wind farm in early September 2021. The wind farm is located 15 to 40 kilometers off the Danish coast in the Baltic Sea and covers an area of 132 square kilometers. The facility consists of 72 wind turbines with a rotor diameter of 167 meters and total height of 187 meters. The foundations weigh up to 800 tons each. With an installed capacity of 604 MW, Kriegers Flak is considered the largest wind farm in Scandinavia. It’s expected to cover the annual energy consumption of around 600,000 Danish households.
Floating Wind Farm Hywind Scotland
The world’s first floating wind farm is the “Hywind Scotland”, which opened in 2017 and is installed around 30 kilometers off the coast of Scotland in a water depth of 95 to 120 meters in the North Sea. The park, which covers an area of around four square kilometers, consists of five wind turbines, each with a tower almost 100 meters high and rotor blades 75 meters long. The total capacity of the plant is 30 MW. The turbines sit on floating bodies around 90 meters long and weighing 3,500 tons, which are held in position by steel chains.