Offshore windfarm development: bigger, better, cheaper

It is hard to keep up with how quickly offshore wind technology is developing. Turbines standing in shallow seas will soon cover hundreds of square miles of the UK’s coasts, providing one-third of Britain’s electricity.

Next it will be the turn of floating turbines. Admittedly, it took 15 years for Statoil to develop the first floating windfarm off Aberdeen, but its output has exceeded expectations. The Norwegian state oil company, renamed Equinor to make its image greener, has said more than half of the North Sea is suitable for deploying floating wind power. Electricity produced from these turbines anchored in deep water could provide all the EU’s electricity four times over.

The cost of offshore wind has tumbled as turbine designs have got better and bigger, with each machine providing 30 times the output of the first ones deployed 18 years ago. Perhaps the greatest boost to hopes of staving off the worst of climate change is that the coasts of the US, Japan and many maritime states are suitable for floating turbines and are as windy as the North Sea. If you worry about the wind ceasing to blow (which it rarely does at sea), schemes for storing energy in batteries and with hydrogen are advancing fast too.


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