Europe Tops Offshore Wind Energy Volume Record


Europe installed a record 3,623 megawatts of new offshore wind capacity in 2019, according to statistics released Feb. 6 by WindEurope. However, the association noted, more ambitious growth will be required to meet the goals of the European Commissions Green Deal, which aims to decarbonize Europes energy system by 2050.

The United Kingdom added 1,764 MW, accounting for almost half of the new capacity, the association found. Germany was next with 1,111 MW. The other countries supplying new offshore wind capacity last year were Denmark (374 MW), Belgium (370 MW) and Portugal (8 MW). A megawatt is equal to 1 million watts.

A net addition of 502 grid-connected offshore wind turbines across 10 wind farms were added during 2019. Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy accounted for 62 percent of the offshore turbines connected to the grid last year, and MHI Vestas Offshore Wind connected 28 percent.

Europe now has total installed offshore wind capacity of 22,072 MW across 11 wind farms, with 5,047 grid-connected wind turbines across 12 countries. The U.K. accounts for 45 percent of all such installations, followed by Germany (34 percent), Denmark (8 percent), Belgium (7 percent) and the Netherlands (5 percent). Spain, Finland, France, Sweden, Norway, Ireland and Portugal combined for the remaining 1 percent.

According to the European Commission, Europe needs between 230,000 and 450,000 MW of offshore wind power by 2050 to decarbonize the energy system and meet the goals of the Green Deal, which is a set of policy initiatives brought forward by the commission with the goal of making Europe climate neutral by 2050. Although the organization expressed optimism about the offshore wind energys growth in potential in Europe, it said more must be done to meet the Green Deals aggressive goals.

Europe really embraced offshore wind in 2019, WindEurope CEO Giles Dickson said in a news release. Auction prices showed its now cheaper to build offshore wind than new gas or coal plants. Several governments raised the amount they want to build. This time last year we were looking at 76 [gigwatts] by 2030. Now its 100 GW. A gigawatt is equal to one thousand megawatts.

In a renewable energy auction, a government issues a call for tenders to install a certain capacity of renewable energy-based electricity. Project developers who participate in the auction submit a bid with a price per unit of electricity at which they are able to realize the project. The government evaluates the offers on the basis of the price and other criteria and signs a power purchasing agreement with the successful bidder.

Dickson acknowledged that European countries are not currently building enough offshore wind energy to deliver on the goal of 100 GW by 2030, let alone the more ambitious volumes needed to deliver the Green Deal. The EU Commission says we need up to 450 GW of offshore by 2050. That means 7 GW new offshore wind every year by 2030 and 18 GW by 2050. Last year we built a record amount, but only 3 GW.

The association believes the bigger numbers are doable and affordable, Dickson said. The new EU Offshore Wind Strategy in the Green Deal should map out clearly how to mobilize the investments needed for 450 GW, he stated. Crucially, it should provide a master plan (a) to develop the offshore and onshore grid connections and (b) to get the maritime spatial planning right. This will require ever close cooperation between governments in the North Sea and the Baltic. And this should also include the U.K. – they were half of Europes investment in offshore wind in the last decade and remain by far the biggest market.

WindEurope noted that the average 59 kilometers distance to shore and 33 meters water depth for offshore wind farms continued to increase, even though most wind farms are bottom-fixed. However, this is gradually changing, as an emerging trend is the development of floating offshore wind energy platforms in several countries. The group noted that the launch of the new Portugese floating project – WindFloat Atlantic, funded by the European Unions NER300 program, means Europe now has 45 MW of floating offshore wind. In addition, Spain tested the first semisubmersible, multi-turbine floating platform offshore for three months at a test facility.

Gear oils account for the majority of lubricants used in wind turbines, followed by hydraulic fluids and greases.

Gear oil is used for wind turbine gearboxes, which are eliminated in some newer direct drive turbines. Hydraulic fluid is used in the hydraulic systems that control the pitch – the angle of the blades in the wind. Grease is used in several wind turbine locations: the main rotor shaft bearing; the yaw bearing, pitch or blade bearings; pitch drive gears; and generator bearings.

WindEuropes Offshore Wind in Europe: Key Trends and Statistics 2019 report is available at the association’s website.

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