World’s largest wind turbine installed in Liverpool Bay and goes online

The Guardian reports, 17th May 2017: The planet’s biggest and most powerful wind turbines have begun generating electricity off the Liverpool coast, cementing Britain’s reputation as a world leader in the technology.

Danish company Dong Energy has just finished installing 32 turbines in Liverpool Bay that are taller than the Gherkin skyscraper, with blades longer than nine London buses. Dong Energy, the wind farm’s developer, believes these machines herald the future for offshore wind power: bigger, better and, most importantly, cheaper. 

Each of the 195m-tall turbines in the Burbo Bank extension has more than twice the power capacity of those in the neighbouring Burbo Bank windfarm completed a decade ago. “That shows you something about the scale-up of the industry, the scale-up of the technology,” said Benjamin Sykes, the country manager for Dong Energy UK.

Turbines at the Burbo Bank extension wind farm in Merseyside. Photograph: Steve Morgan/the Guardian

The project is the first time the 8MW turbines have been commercially used anywhere in the world, which Sykes hailed as a “very important milestone” for the sector.

Subsidies, friendly regulation and a maritime past have helped the UK install more offshore wind power than any other country in the world. Collectively they now have a capacity of 5.3GW, generating enough electricity to power 4.3m homes. Eight further projects already under construction will add more than half that capacity again.

The majority of turbines in UK waters today are between 3.0MW and 3.6MW, with a smattering at 5MW to 7MW, but the Burbo Bank extension is a herald of things to come. Most of the 16 projects which have a planning green light but have not started construction yet will use turbines of at least 8MW.

While the UK benefits from the power from those wind farms, the industry has been criticised in the past for not ensuring enough parts are made in Britain. Dong does not put a figure on what percentage of the Burbo Bank extension is UK built but half the blades are made at MHI Vesta’s Isle of Wight factory; the bits that sit on top of the foundation are built at Teesside.

 

Source: The Guardian, 17th May 2017. For the full details, see www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/may/17/mersey-wind-turbines-liverpool-uk-wind-technology

Note: The Daily Telegraph, 17th May 2017, also reports: The Danish wind developer says that the 262 foot blades, each the equivalent of nine double decker London buses, generates enough electricity from a single rotation to power the average British home for 29 hours.
For further details, see www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2017/05/16/worlds-largest-wind-turbines-may-double-size-2024

 

Marinet observes: The potential for generating the nation’s electricity and energy in general from marine resources is considerable. It embraces not just offshore wind farms, whose generating capacity continues to expand technologically, but also tidal lagoons, tidal stream, and wave energy. Whilst the quantum of this marine renewable energy resource is still uncertain, it is clear that it could probably generate somewhere between 30% and 40% of the nation’s electricity and related energy.

This is an infinitely better option than nuclear in safety terms, — both whilst the nuclear plants operate and in subsequent management of their waste — and, is also unlikely to be a worse option financially. Given that we have to as an imperative address the carbon issue, is marine renewables not the best way to go?

Apart from public awareness of this overall potential, which still seems somewhat limited, there are two principal factors holding back the development of marine technologies.

The first of these is the absence of a marine national grid comparable to the national grid on land. On land the national grid enables a generator, wherever they are geographically, to connect their newly generated electricity into the national distribution system.

It is true that the land national grid is having to reconstruct itself, requiring considerable financial investment over the next 20 years, to fully facilitate and make best use of the paradigm of decentralised generation of electricity from a multiplicity of sources in contrast to the existing system which is fed by a relatively small number of large generating sources. Importantly the UK’s National Grid company, which manages the national grid system, is confident that it can meet this technological challenge.

Whereas in the case of the marine generators — wind farms, tidal lagoons, wave and tidal stream — it is clear that they have no comparable marine national grid to connect into. Each has to bring its electricity to shore by its own specially constructed route. Yet if these various sources of electricity production had a national marine grid into which they could connect, then the financial viability of many projects would be vastly improved, the efficiency of delivery would be greatly enhanced, and the full potential of this national marine resource would be maximised.

The 40% figure for generating the nation’s need for electricity would be greatly facilitated.

Therefore both government, the National Grid company and the marine renewable companies need to be thinking strategically along these lines and working co-operatively to bring about this national marine grid. At present, this thinking is not evident or, at best, embryonic.

The second of the two factors currently restraining development of the marine renewable sector is finance. The financial model which can solve this problem is not government investment on a large scale, or massive subsidy via the tax payer and electricity consumer. Rather — as is the case of solar pv on land — it is investment by the nation at both the individual and corporate level in the marine companies which can deliver this technology. In short, it is a further extension of the democratisation financial model.

Ordinary people and companies are prepared to invest in solar pv and small land based wind companies because they can see it makes sense. They can secure energy self-sufficiency and turn in a profit from their surplus production at the same time. The marine industry can benefit too from this kind of model, suitably modified to its particular circumstances.

If the nation — ordinary people, pension companies, and financiers — can see that investing in Britain’s own unique renewable energy resource will make them and the nation money — with considerable export potential — and make the nation self-sufficient instead of having to rely on Chinese, Japanese and Middle Eastern countries, then is it not a fairly certain bet that the nation will see the sense in the marine renewables option?

To Marinet, this seems obvious. Think about it, and let us know if you share the same view.

 


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