As you know, the prospect of reliable 100% electricity generation by 2030 is now a real likelihood. See:
Offshore windfarms, like the currently under-construction Beatrice field in the Moray Firth, have particular advantages. Stanford University has summarised them:
- The first and most immediately compelling advantage of floating offshore wind is access to incredible wind resource over deep waters. Currently we can only access a small fraction of the offshore wind resource worldwide due to depth constraints.
- Offshore wind is recognized for its proximity to load centers but often still encounters significant NIMBY (“Not In My Back Yard”) resistance. Population centers tend to cluster near the coastlines, so offshore wind minimizes the distance from generation to load centers, without competing for valuable land. Opponents argue, however, that turbines negatively impact the skyline (visual pollution) or result in disruptive noise. Floating turbines address these concerns by allowing wind farms to be pushed farther offshore and out of sight.
- Finally, there are also several manufacturing advantages to floating platforms, such as using less material in construction and reducing the need for specialty marine engineering expertise. One major cost driver for conventional offshore wind are the heavy lift vessels required to erect the turbine. Very expensive special purpose ships are required to transport the parts on site and perform the assembly. Floating turbine platforms, however, are designed to be assembled in port and towed into position using simple barges or tugboats. This can result in major cost savings and greatly increased flexibility in construction.
Presumably recognising these particular advantages of offshore wind farms, the Scottish Government has invested a further £1.5 million (as last year) to further develop the technology in the form of the Carbon Trust’s Offshore Wind Accelerator (OWA) programme – which brings together developers in a bid to make offshore wind an even more affordable source of power. This comes on top of £43 million already invested in numerous other renewable energy projects this year: