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Tag Archives: offshore wind

Can tidal power match wind costs?

By Dave Elliott

Wind power has developed quite rapidly around the world, heading for 500GW soon, with costs falling. On-shore wind is now one of the cheapest renewables. The UK has nearly 10GW on-shore and over 5GW offshore, with the latter expanding and new technology emerging – floating wind turbines.  However tidal power, although mostly at a much earlier stage in its evolution, is making a bid to compete, at least in the medium to long term. Although the Swansea tidal lagoon project will generate at a somewhat higher cost than offshore wind power, and certainly much higher than on-shore wind, it’s claimed that subsequent lagoons should be much cheaper, and tidal stream turbine developers are also confident about price reductions. Will tidal power really get cheap? That may depend on how these technologies get supported in the near future.

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Whatever next?

By Dave Elliott

Simon Taylor’s The Fall and Rise of Nuclear Power in Britain’  (UIT Cambridge) is a readable scamper through the history of the UK nuclear programme, warts and all, with much detail on who did what. The government’s Chief Scientists, Sir David King and Sir David MacKay, are seen as having played key roles in recent years, and Taylor seems to accept the resultant official view that renewables won’t be sufficient: During those inevitable dreary November days when the UK has grey skies and no wind, it will be thermal power, whether gas-fired or nuclear, which keeps the UK moving, lit and warm. Nuclear therefore has a place in the mix for the foreseeable future’. 

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EU Renewables round up

By Dave Elliott

Renewables are roaring ahead in Europe, with wind at over 140GW and PV surpassing 100GW. There have been some spectacular successes, with renewables briefly supplying 87% of German electricity at one point, and Portugal achieving similarly high contributions-something that’s a regular occurrence in Denmark. But progress may soon be slowed as  economic pressures mount and political reaction sets in with support schemes being withdrawn or constrained. For example, in Germany it’s all change as the government revises the Energiewende energy law with a slow down for wind and solar expansion, via annual capacity caps and reduced support levels. Portugal has also started to phase out its support for renewables, although not quite so aggressively as happened in Spain, or, for that matter, the UK. (more…)

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Offshore wind – will the US catch up?

By Dave Elliott

It has been striking how much more enthusiastic the EU, and the UK especially, has been on offshore wind compared with the US. The EU will soon have nearly 11GW installed, compared to zero so far in the US. Part of the reason for the difference has been that, unlike the US, there are shallow waters off the UK and some other parts of the EU, which enabled earlier easier projects, with piles driven into the sea-bed for supporting towers – nursery slopes, in effect. It wasn’t until new “floating” wind technology emerged that deep-water sites further offshore became viable. Floating jacket leg and spar buoy systems are being tested off the EU coast and the US and Japan are also now in the race, in the later case as part of the response to the Fukushima nuclear disaster, with a 2MW unit installed off Fukushima and 7MW floating devices now under test.
http://www.offshorewind.biz/2015/03/23/floaters-game-changers-for-offshore-wind/

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Eco-footprints and technological change

By Dave Elliott

In their paper ‘A system of systems approach to energy sustainability assessment: are all renewables really green?’ Saeed Hadian (UCLA) and Kaveh Madani (ICL), take a comprehensive look at energy system carbon footprints, water footprints, land footprints and costs. They conclude that geothermal energy has the lowest impact, biomass elephant grass the most. As you might expect, coal and oil are also high, wind and solar thermal low, but so is nuclear, while PV solar comes out quite high – more than hydro, or gas: www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1470160X14005640 – cor0005

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UK renewables hit 19% – but are hit back

By Dave Elliott

The output from the UK’s 24 GW of renewables was 64.4 TWh in 2014, 19.2% of annual UK electricity supply, overtaking that from the UK’s troubled nuclear fleet, at 63.8 TW in 2014. Wind led, at 31.6 TWh, 9.4% of UK electricity, solar supplied 3.9 TWh (1.2%), hydro 5.9 TWh (1.8%) and bioenergy 22.9 TWh (6.8%). And Scottish renewables supplied the equivalent of 49.6% of Scotland’s electricity use, led by on-shore wind. www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/416310/PN_March_15.pdf

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Devolving power

By Dave Elliott

‘Distributing Power: A transition to a civic energy future’, a report on research by the EPSRC-funded Realising Transition Pathways Research Consortium of 9 UK universities, argues that up to 50% of electricity demand in the UK could be met by distributed and low carbon sources by 2050. The report assesses the technological feasibility of a move from the current traditional business models of the ‘Big Six’ energy providers to a model where greater ownership is met by devolved governments, municipalities, co-ops and communities. And it looks in details at what types of governance, ownership and control a distributed future would need. (more…)

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The first CfD round: wind leads

By Dave Elliott

The first full competitive auctions for renewables held under the Contracts for a Difference (CfD) regime led to £315m in contracts being awarded for over 2GW of new capacity in all, with wind projects dominating and some lower than expected strike prices emerging. (more…)

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Wind power around the world

By Dave Elliott

Wind power is booming globally, with over 370GW of electricity generation capacity installed so far. It could jump to 2,000 GW, more than five times its current level by 2030, supplying up to 19 % of global electricity, the Global Wind Energy Council says, although that would require ‘unambiguous commitment to renewable energy in line with industry recommendations … [and] the political will to commit to appropriate policies’. (more…)

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Wind power in the UK- still on the up

By Dave Elliott

Wind energy is doing well in the UK. There were periods last year when the UK’s 11GW of wind plant met up to 15% of power demand, over-taking nuclear, and even briefly achieved 24%: www.carboncommentary.com/2014/10/06/wind-power-exceeds-nuclear-output-for-a-few-minutes/

While there have been no shortage of complaints about the alleged high cost, Cambridge Econometrics has calculated that wind plants saved the UK £579m in fossil fuel imports in 2013: www.camecon.com/Libraries/Downloadable_Files/The_impact_of_wind_energy_on_UK_energy_dependence_and_resilience.sflb.ashx (more…)

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