In Europe, offshore wind energy is following in the path of onshore wind energy
Wind energy harnesses the driving force of the wind and transforms it into electricity. In the present period of energy transition, this increasingly cost-effective renewable may well represent the future of energy. Both onshore and offshore, wind energy is establishing itself as a trend, particularly in Europe. We take a closer look.
With 90% of total installed capacity worldwide and more than 3,200 offshore wind turbines connected to the grid in 2015 (1), Europe leads the world in offshore wind power. The United Kingdom heads the field, with 46% of global installed capacity in 2015, followed by Germany (30%) and Denmark (11.5%).
Wind energy in Europe, unquestionable growth
The figures speak for themselves: an additional 6.1 gigawatts (GW) of wind energy was installed in Europe in the first half of 2017 (2). This includes 4.8 GW of onshore wind capacity and 1.3 GW of offshore capacity (chiefly fixed-bottom turbines).
What reasons lie behind this popularity? Production costs are falling, profitability is rising, and consumers can be supplied with green, locally produced energy.
ENGIE commits to offshore wind power
Offshore wind power is therefore one of the main trends in the energy transition. Increasingly competitive, it could produce up to twice as much energy as onshore wind power.
ENGIE has decided to focus on this sector of renewable energy through several large-scale projects in Europe. One example is a contract awarded in September 2017 to ENGIE and EDP Renováveis (EDPR) in the United Kingdom, as members of the Moray Offshore Windfarm (East) Ltd joint venture. By 2022, they will develop an offshore wind farm off the northeast coast of Scotland with a capacity of 950 MW, equivalent to the consumption of more than 950,000 British households.
The electricity will be priced at £57.50 per megawatt hour (3), which is very affordable, showing the growing competitiveness of the wind sector and encouraging the expansion of offshore wind generation. There are multiple reasons for this success, including technological maturity, economies of scale, shared maintenance costs, etc.
ENGIE is carrying out other projects in France, Belgium and Portugal:
- In France, a consortium consisting of ENGIE, EDP Renewables and the Caisse des Dépôts is developing two wind farms with fixed-bottom turbines, one off the coast of Dieppe and Le Tréport and the other close to the islands of Yeu and Noirmoutier. Both wind farms, which will provide total capacity of approximately 1,000 MW, are due to be commissioned in 2021. At Leucate, off the Mediterranean coast, ENGIE, EDP Renewables and the Caisse des Dépôts, along with their industrial partners Eiffage, Principle Power and General Electric, are carrying out a pilot floating wind farm project, which was selected by the French government as part of its call for floating wind farm projects. By 2020, four 6 MW wind turbines will be installed on semi-submersible floating platforms. France should possess a total capacity of 3,000 MW of offshore wind capacity by 2023, and it has announced up to 6,000 MW of new projects by the same date.
- In Belgium off the North Sea, ENGIE is involved in the Mermaid project, which aims to construct 66 wind turbines with a total capacity of roughly 250 MW by 2020.
- ENGIE is also active in Portugal for the development of floating wind turbines in Europe through the WindFloat Atlantic project, in partnership with EDP Renewables, Mitsubishi Corporation, Chiyoda Corporation and Repsol. A wind farm comprising three or four turbines with a total capacity of 25 MW should be constructed by 2018.
(1) Données économiques maritimes françaises, Ifremer, August 2017.
(2) WindEurope, July 2017.
(3) A price up to 50% lower than the prices of the first auction in the United Kingdom in 2015.