#06 Offshore Wind
The untapped potential or harnessing the wind at sea
Read time: 3 minutes
In this week’s issue you will learn about a renewable energy source at the early stage of expansion but with massive growth potential: Offshore Wind
"As yet, the wind is an untamed, and unharnessed force; and quite possibly one of the greatest discoveries hereafter to be made, will be the taming, and harnessing of the wind." - Abraham Lincoln
Top Offshore Wind News 🗞️
The US is going all in: They plan to add 30 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind energy by 2030 and 15 GW of floating offshore wind energy by 2035. That’s over 80% of the global installed capacity in 2021.
So is China: In 2021 the country built more offshore wind power capacity than the rest of the world combined.
Let’s dive in 🧠
Wind power is the second largest source of renewable energy.
But if we look closer we can see there are two main types: Onshore and offshore.
Onshore has been known for a really long time whereas the first offshore wind farm was not built until 1991. That’s why 93% of wind installed capacity in 2021 was onshore.
But offshore is growing rapidly and has huge potential…
Offshore wind is awesome for 3 main reasons:
Wind speeds: Winds blow way faster at sea than on land which means more energy can be generated.
Wind steadiness: The main issue with wind and solar is they are intermittent energy sources. The good news is that at sea there is almost always wind, that’s not the case on land.
Landscape obstruction: Onshore projects get blocked because not many want them on their backyard, they obstruct the landscape and are noisy. At sea that’s not an issue and we can make them as big as we want.
Making them bigger is key since the power generated increases exponentially with the blade size. Area swept by the blades = π x blade length squared
If we dig even deeper we see there are 2 types of offshore wind: Fixed and floating.
The further away from the coast, the stronger and more steady winds are but also the deeper the ocean is. Until now we didn’t know how to make wind turbines float so we had to install them in “shallow” areas and fix them to the ocean floor.
That’s why the vast majority of offshore is fixed.
But floating is much better:
Energy generation: Since they are further out at sea they get much more wind and generate more electricity.
Locations: We can install them in areas that were previously inaccessible with fixed offshore turbines. Countries like Spain, where the ocean is very deep close to the coast will benefit a lot from floating offshore wind.
Ecosystem preservation: They don’t mess with the ocean floor so much and their installation process is less aggressive.
In summary: Floating offshore > Fixed offshore > Onshore
Nature: Impacts on marine wildlife need to be considered.
Price: Offshore is currently more expensive to build, install, maintain, etc.
Distance: The further out at sea the more difficult it is to transport the electricity generated to where it’s needed.
Locations: The ocean is full of commercial routes, natural protected areas, fishing zones, military drills, etc. Planning where to put the farm is be challenging.
Top Offshore Wind Companies and Projects 💰
Here’s a mix of top companies and projects so you can have better offshore wind conversations.
Largest operational floating offshore wind farm: It’s located on Norway’s coast and even though it’s small, it is a big landmark for floating offshore wind projects.
Largest operational offshore wind farm: It’s located on the UK’s coast and it will help power 1.3 million UK homes.
Largest planned offshore wind farm: Will be built between China and Taiwan and will be able to power the equivalent of all of Norway. Still years away from being done.
❗Extreme knowledge area❗
How floating offshore works: Here’s a great video that explains the design and engineering behind floating wind turbines.
For experts: Here’s the Global Offshore Wind Report 2022.
That’s it for today, 1 climate tech topic in under 5 minutes.
Next week… Carbon Capture Utilization! 🤯
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