Wind farm boom
A wind-farm building boom is about to occur in Europe. The boom is being credited to falling costs to build wind farms and still generate power at a competitive price.
Currently, the United Kingdom is set to build 400 giant wind turbines off its northeast coast with enough output - 1.2 Gigawatts - to power over one million homes. Two wind farms will be built 22 kilometers off the Dutch coast by DONG Energy of Denmark in a project known as the Dogger Bank.
In 2017, the Netherlands' 150-turbine wind farm, known as the Gemini Offshore Wind Park, consisting of 150 turbines, will begin operations to generate power for 1.5 million of its residents, or 785,000 households.
All of this is good news for the climate.
Offshore wind versus fossil fuels
Specialists in the field estimate that nearly seven percent of electricity for Europe will be generated by offshore wind by the year 2030. In the current market of low fossil fuel costs it seems unlikely that building these expensive farms would be beneficial, however, it is precisely the market that is driving down the costs associated with building the wind farms.
With fossil fuel prices at all-time lows, offshore drilling has been closed or suspended in many locations in the North Sea, creating a larger inventory of installation vessels that are available to transport turbines out to sea at a greatly reduced cost.
Steel prices have also dropped across the globe, resulting in cheaper costs for the components needed for building the massive wind farms. Technology, building, and maintenance have also advanced significantly within the field, creating larger turbines that require less servicing, and spurring the development of new methods for pylon foundation laying in the ocean.
“Falling costs mean power generated by offshore wind farms is becoming increasingly competitive with other fuels” https://t.co/YBUWdN1Vvp
— IEA (@IEA) July 21, 2016
Clean energy options for Europe
DONG Energy won a bid for an all-time low cost to supply wind power (€72.70/MWh) for the Netherlands, but that does not include the cost of the transmission cables, which adds approximately €14/MWh. The total cost, €86.70/MWh, dips below the 2020 industry goal of €100/MWh, getting the industry remarkably close to its 2025 target price of €85/MWh.
These prices make it extremely competitive in the power generation market, offering sustainable clean energy options for Europe.
What does this mean for the climate?
A reduction in the dependence and use of fossil fuels will lead to a reduction in the amount of carbon dioxide emissions that lead to ever-increasing greenhouse gases that are warming the planet. The Gemini Offshore Wind Park alone will reduce carbon emissions by 1.25 million tons per year, good news for a warming world.