In October, the first power at the world’s largest offshore wind farm was announced, bringing a much-needed boost to the wind energy sector. After months of concerns regarding high costs of materials, low profits, as well as mechanical issues at wind farms, the industry is finally witnessing the positive outcomes of an enormous investment.
This is evident with the successful operation of the massive Dogger Bank Wind Farm in the U.K. Many countries around the world are actively looking to broaden their energy sources and increase their capacity for renewable energy so as to meet the increasing demand for clean energy. As a result, there has been a significant investment in offshore wind farms and the development of advanced turbine tech.
The Dogger Bank, which is known as the world’s largest offshore wind farm, became operational this month. It is situated in the North Sea, off the coast of northeast England. Its construction is divided into 3 phases, with a projected overall capacity of 3.6 gigawatts once it is fully functional. This capacity will be sufficient to power around six million homes in a year. Additionally, there is a proposal for an additional stage of the project known as Dogger Bank D. The project is a collaborative effort between SSE Renewables, Equinor, and Vargronn, with each holding a stake of 40, 40, and 20, respectively.
The companies have selected GE Vernova’s enormous Haliade-X turbines for use on the farm. These turbines feature massive blades that are 107 metres in length. This wind project is one of the latest examples worldwide that makes use of large, innovative blades. Companies are aiming to produce more electricity while reducing the number of turbines required. According to an announcement from the Dogger Bank Wind Farm Project, the first turbine at Dogger Bank A began generating power and rotating on October 7th. The statement mentions that power from the initial offshore wind turbine is currently being passed on to the UK’s national grid by means of Dogger Bank’s high-voltage direct current- HVDC transmission system. This marks the first use of HVDC technology on a wind farm across the UK.
In recent years, the UK has become an attractive destination for companies looking to boost their wind energy capacity. This is primarily due to the country’s well-established wind sector, favourable wind speed, broad coastline, and fairly shallow seabed.
Many countries worldwide are considering emulating the U.K. by expanding their offshore wind power abilities. Several countries that have already adopted wind energy by building onshore wind farms are now seeking for new sites in deep as well as shallow waters. The significant advancements in wind turbine technology over the past decade have opened up immense opportunities for the development of offshore wind capacity. Heavy investments in the wind energy sector worldwide have led to significant improvements in wind energy equipment too.
It is well to be noted that in September, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Wind Energy Technologies Office made a selection of 15 projects that were awarded a total of $27 million in order to tackle important challenges related to the installation of offshore, land-based, and distributed wind technologies. The Biden administration announced in 2021 its plans to accomplish a capacity of 30 GW for offshore wind energy by the year 2030. Achieving this target is extremely ambitious, especially considering that the country currently only has two operational offshore wind farms.
The EU has also declared its backing for the rapid expansion of wind energy capacity in Europe. Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission, announced plans to introduce a comprehensive European wind power package. She pointed out the importance of collaboration with both industry and member states in the development and implementation of this package. As part of the package, she made a commitment to expedite the permitting process for additional projects and also pledged to enhance auction systems throughout the European Union and prioritise initiatives related to skills development, access to finance, as well as the establishment of stable supply chains. Certain countries, like Denmark, Germany, and the UK, have made major strides in the field of wind energy. However, there are other nations, such as Latvia and Italy, that have not been able to keep up and need assistance from the EU to encourage their development in this area.
Norway, the EU’s neighbour, has ambitious plans to build the largest floating offshore wind power projects in the near future, a goal that was once considered impractical. The majority of offshore wind turbines are securely anchored to the seabed in shallow waters. Floating turbines offer the advantage of being able to be deployed in deep waters, where the wind is considerably stronger. Additionally, these turbines can be installed without causing any concerns or complaints from groups regarding the destruction of their shorelines.
The wind sector has seen a surge of optimism as news breaks about the successful generation of power at a large-scale offshore wind farm. This development has bolstered confidence in the industry’s ability to achieve its ambitious wind capacity goals in the coming decades. Despite facing high material costs and numerous hurdles in the past three years, substantial funding in wind energy technology research and development, along with significant investments in large-scale projects, is starting to yield positive results.