Since global warming is finally becoming a truly considered issue. Countries all over the world are trying at their own level to change the situation by operating an energy mix within their country to make an energy transition towards less polluting and more sustainable consumption. Europe today is playing a major role in the project to decarbonize the continent by 2050. An investment of around 800 billion euros should be required to finance its total financing to achieve the decarbonisation result. The European Commission has launched this project in 2017 with the member countries of the European Union, but other countries, such as Great Britain for example, have also launched the “zero emission” project announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson for a target by 2030.
What solution should we use to reduce the carbon footprint of our countries? The miracle solution is not found overnight, but the use of wind seems to appeal to the world. Offshore wind turbines seem to be an interesting solution for a decarbonization project thanks to the use of an inexhaustible resource, the wind, and with almost zero environmental impact.
A wind turbine at sea or otherwise offshore, is a wind turbine located off the coasts of countries as opposed to having them on land. This allows for better use and capture of the wind and therefore produce more energy through the rotation of a turbine to an electric generator.
The force of the wind is much greater at sea due to a nearly flat surface, which increases the impact and strength of the wind on the turbine.
There are two types of wind turbines today:
– Fixed wind turbines that are installed on the bottom of the sea
– The floating wind turbine, which as its name suggests are placed on large structures that allow it to be positioned where there is potentially not much bottom in the sea. Its great advantage is that it can be designed and assembled within ports and not directly at sea like the fixed wind turbine.
The current champions of wind farms are mainly the United Kingdom and Germany, which together hold 78% of all European wind farms. This is due to the nearby natural resource of the North Sea, which is a very windy geographical location all year round. This makes it possible to increase the regularity of energy production.
The history of offshore wind turbines began in 1990 for the first time in Denmark, where two companies, Vestas, and Alstom, were the precursors of these offshore constructions.
As far as cost is concerned, the production of offshore wind turbines is higher than on land due to all the important logistics for its construction in a less stable environment.
Offshore wind turbines can represent a risk for migratory birds that would have a wind farm in their path. It can also represent a risk for navigation if the signalling of a new wind farm is too late. During the construction of wind turbines, damage can be caused to the seabed due to the noise that the construction emits into the water during the construction process.
The part of the section of the wind turbine that is submerged allows crustaceans to cling to it and create a real new ecosystem. This creates an artificial reef and is therefore beneficial for marine life.
3.The example of the United Kingdom
The ambitious English project to supply all the houses in the country with offshore wind power.
In October 2020, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that all homes in his country would soon be powered by electrical energy from huge offshore wind farms by 2030.
This project is in line with Britain’s “zero emission” target for 2050. England is already one of the precursors of wind power on the European continent and is one of the main producers of electricity thanks to wind power. This allows to feed once again the energy mix of the country to always limit the climatic impact due to their consumption. Great Britain intends to use one of their resources that is well known in their country, namely wind. This country is the European country most exposed to wind throughout the year, which is an essential quality for their wind farm project.
The Prime Minister had announced: “What Saudi Arabia is to oil, the United Kingdom is to wind: a place of almost unlimited resources, but in the case of wind without carbon emissions and without damage to the environment”. Today the UK produces 20% of its electricity from wind, half of which is generated from the sea and half from land. This project will result in most of the electricity being generated from the sea due to the abundant surface area.
On the other hand, this project does not mean that all the electricity produced will be mainly thanks to wind power. The aim of this project concerns mainly private homes in his country, i.e. about 1/3 of the energy consumption in the United Kingdom. The rest is for businesses and industries, which are much more demanding in terms of energy consumption.
On the other hand, it will reduce the carbon impact significantly and at the same time create employment in the long term. The British government has announced that the power produced will be about 4 times more powerful than the current fleet by 2030, i.e. about 40 GW. This project will not only allow to supply all the houses in his country as he announced but will also allow users of electric vehicles to use this energy from offshore wind farms.
Another innovation is being implemented today, thanks also to the investment of the French giant Total, for the manufacture of floating wind farms. This type of wind turbines is easier to set up thanks to an assembly directly at the port and are easily transportable for installation. This could represent the future of energy through wind and Great Britain hopes to take advantage of this inexhaustible energy in the North Sea.
These new innovations and projects are another step towards a greener and more environmentally friendly future.
The South Korea plans to build the world’s largest offshore wind farm by 2030. This gigantic offshore wind farm will represent 8.2 GW and will enable the country to multiply its wind energy production by 19.
South Korea has therefore announced this pharaonic project of more than 36 billion Euros, which follows the guideline of President Moon Jae-in on the “Green New Deal” project. The Green New Deal aims to make the peninsula carbon neutral by 2050.
The energy production capacity of this future new park will be equivalent to the energy produced by 6 nuclear power plants.
The project will be located in the coastal city of Sinan in the southwest of Korea. This project will be carried out mainly by utility and engineering companies (about 98%) and the rest by the Korean government. In addition, the construction of this wind farm will create 5600 jobs throughout the process.
This incredible project will not miraculously achieve carbon neutrality as quickly as people think. Indeed, we must not forget that Korea is the 4th largest importer of coal in the world and the 3rd largest investor in various coal projects internationally. On the other hand, South Korea is committed to reducing and phasing out its various coal-fired power plants and transforming them to consume liquefied natural gas that is less polluting than coal.
On the other hand, although the creation of energy through LNG is less polluting than the use of coal, LNG remains a polluting energy and worrying on the issue of global warming during its exploitation.
LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) is a fossil fuel essentially composed of methane. Once extracted, natural gas is cooled (about -160 degrees) to transform it into a transparent, odorless and non-toxic liquid.
Indeed, on Friday, May 29, 2020, the Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy group announced the project to build a wind farm in Saint-Brieuc (Côtes d’Armor). This park will be composed of 62 wind turbines on sea each with a power of 8MW, a total of 496 MW. The production will be largely done in France and will therefore also create employment.
This umpteenth offshore wind turbine project underlines once again the willingness of certain countries and their commitment to the recurring problem of global warming and thus to be able to set an example to its neighbors to achieve as quickly as possible the ecological transition and carbon neutrality planned by the European Commission for 2050.
Emmanuel Macron announces an increase in the development of offshore wind power, with the objective of reaching a capacity of 5.2 to 6.2 GW by 2028, instead of the 4.7 to 5.2 GW initially planned.
What to remember?
We can notice a strong reticence on the part of public opinion about wind farm construction due to apprehension and lack of real communication on the reality of this innovation. These apprehensions are the noise or visual nuisances which finally become a brake for the creation of these parks.
The lack of economic and political framework, as well as the administrative complexity of the implementation of new projects and the appeals launched by the populations are once again additional brakes for the creation of the parks but especially for a fast and effective ecological transition or mix.
On a global level, GlobalData estimates that offshore wind energy is expected to grow by 16.2% per year, representing a global power of 142 GW by 2030, compared to 23.2 GW today. Offshore wind would therefore be the powerhouse of the global energy system and the solution to the problem of global warming.
Today, Europe is the main market for wind energy and has an annual growth of 20% at the end of 2020. The Asian markets will also soon experience strong growth in offshore wind energy but will not exceed 16% of the global offshore wind energy share in 2020.
Offshore wind energy makes it possible to develop deeper sea areas in countries where the installation of onshore wind energy is not possible. If Europe today is so effective in this dynamic to achieve the project of decarbonization of its content it is thanks to the support of the entire European Union.
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