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The UK Is To House The Largest Wind Farm The World Has Ever Seen

8 Feb

Danish firm Dong Energy have just announced plans to build the largest wind farm known to man, and it will be located off the north-east coast of the UK in the North Sea. The project is called ‘The Hornsea Project’ and will generate an estimated 1.2GW of power once switched online. In recent years, wind power has taken second position to solar technology in its contribution to the world’s energy supply, but the industry is to be given a huge and exciting boost.

The turbines will be taller than the iconic Gherkin building in London at 190 metres (623 feet) tall. This is arguably the highest on the market and will potentially provide enough power for a million homes. It will be the first offshore wind farm to exceed 1 gigawatts in capacity and will be capable of producing 1.2 GW of power at its upper limit. The development will consist of 7MW wind turbines.

This is not the first time Dong Energy have invested into wind power in the UK, around £6 billion so far, and this new project will be their biggest investment to date. The project is anticipated to make some ripples in the UK economy, with an estimated 2,000 jobs needed for the construction of the facility, and another 300 positions that will be needed to actually operate it when complete. It should even help the UK meet its new climate commitments under the recent Paris accords. It will cover 160 square miles, and be home to 174 wind turbines spanning an area five times the size of Hull.

“It is ground-breaking and innovative, powering more homes than any offshore wind farm currently in operation,” said Dong Energy UK country chairman, Brent Cheshire. “To have the world’s biggest ever offshore wind farm located off the Yorkshire coast is hugely significant, and highlights the vital role offshore wind will play in the UK’s need for new low-carbon energy.”

The wind farm is to be built 75 miles off the coast of Grimsby, at an estimated cost to energy bill-payers of at least £4.2 billion.

The UK secretary of state for energy and climate change praised the plan, saying, “The UK is the world leader in offshore wind energy and this success story is going from strength to strength. The investment shows that we are open for business and is a vote of confidence in the UK and our plan to tackle the legacy of under investment and build an energy infrastructure fit for the twenty first century.”

First electricity from the project is expected to be generated in 2019 and the wind farm should be fully operational by 2020.

Wind Energy Production Has A Record Breaking 2014 Across The Globe

7 May

It’s good news on the renewable energy front. It has been reported by The Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) that global wind energy production increased by 44% in 2014. It appears the world’s energy worries may be actually blowing in the wind as a total 51,477 megawatts worth of wind capacity was installed around the globe.

It has taken around 40 years to get here but the total global wind capacity now stands at a huge 369,553 megawatts. 2014’s total is about one seventh of the total installed which is a good indication of how popular wind power has become.

At the end of 2013, the expectations for wind power market growth were uncertain, as continued economic slowdown in Europe and political uncertainty in the US made it difficult to make projections for 2014. Thus, you can imagine the surprise of the 2014 results.

Green news outlet, Treehugger said “This means that, in theory, even without acceleration in the rate of growth, we could double wind capacity during the next seven years.” They also speculate that the figure would double again in just five years.

China has had the largest overall market for wind power generation since 2009 and due to another remarkable year has retained the top spot in 2014. Europe had a good year earning them runner up, followed by North American, a distant third.

Zoom into Europe and we find that Germany had a brilliant year in 2014 both onshore and offshore – but rest assured, the United Kingdom also had a great year earning us second place for wind in Europe by installing a total 1,736MW, of which 923 MW was onshore and 813 MW was offshore. The UK is the largest offshore wind market in the world with total installations of almost 4,494 MW, accounting for over half of the global offshore market. The UK now generates enough wind energy to supply the needs of more than 6.7 million UK households. Not bad for a small island!

When it comes to the present a new report from GlobalData has found that Germany is set to overtake the UK as global leader for annual offshore wind turbine installations in 2015, with an estimated 2,071 MW set to be added this year. “Germany’s huge increase in offshore installations is attributable to several offshore wind projects scheduled to come online in 2015,” said Ankit Mathur, GlobalData’s Practice Head for Power.

China is also springing into action and will jump into second place, leaving the UK in third position. Ankit Mathur also went on to say;

“China is also planning an array of offshore wind projects this year, which will see it overtake the UK for annual installations.”

“Additionally, the next few years will see China maintain its annual offshore wind installations around the 1 Gigawatt mark, while the UK will observe relatively lower installations until 2018, when the country’s next offshore growth spurt is expected.”

Chin up UK – this is one race where it doesn’t really matter who comes in first because everyone’s a winner.

Winter Vs Renewable Energy

21 Nov

Winter is tapping on the front door just waiting to come in, the leaves are falling, pesky frost is appearing on car windows and temperatures are slowly but surely dropping. What does this mean for renewable energy, could we survive winter purely using clean energy methods? And more importantly who will come out on top, winter or renewable energy?

 

Solar

Did you know that solar panels are actually more efficient in colder temperatures? During the winter months solar panels energy production can increase by up to 15% because the panels capture energy from photovoltaic light, not the suns heat. Heat actually reduces the efficiency of a solar panel. Although this is a winning situation for solar, winter months have fewer daylight hours and therefore the amount of energy produced will be lower than that of other times in the year.

Winter = Nil

Renewable Energy = Nil

 

Wind

Is the answer blowing in the wind? It could very well be as the winter months generally bring stronger winds. These stronger winds could help offset the loss of production seen from solar. This same balanced system design can also be applied to differences between night and day, where solar panels create energy from light during the day and wind turbines take benefit from night-time winds.

 

Winter = Nil

Renewable Energy = 1

 

Location

Coal and natural gas power plants have the capability to create energy regardless of their location. Unfortunately for wind and solar, they require a strategic placement which is also very dependent on the time of year.

Renewable energy system designers plan for these changes, using weather data, anemometers, and modelling software to ensure the system is reliable and efficient all year round. Often this means designing a system based on the historically least sunny and windy day of the year.

Renewable energy systems are most productive and cost effective when they are customised to their unique environment. For example, Polar Regions have very little sun during the winter months thus being a good location for wind but not solar.

Winter = 1 (We gave this due to the natural power of the winter months, they could heavily push the cost of renewable energy up, by means of more expensive planning and deployment).

Renewable Energy = 1

 

Snow!

Ah snow, some love it, some hate it and some love to hate it. Personally I’m a sucker for snow – snowball fights, snowmen, yellow snow…erm not so much, but how does this effect renewable energy?  Snow does prevent the technology from absorbing light, but can easily be brushed off or will melt quickly in the sun.

Snow and ice can cause added load on solar panels, so this possibility should be factored into structural design as well as energy production estimates for the winter season.

Winter = 2

Renewable energy = 1

 

Peak power demand

During the winter months we all use more energy to heat our homes. This can lead to energy shortages which cause natural gas prices to rise. With the increase in demand we also see an increase in power outages. The good news for renewable energy systems is that they are designed for off the grid use and can provide us with uninterrupted electricity even if the power lines go down.

Winter = 2

Renewable energy  = 2

 

There you have it, it’s a draw. Renewable energy technology is quickly advancing before our very eyes for example solar panels can now self-cleaning…who knew? At this moment in time it’s hard to pick a clear winner and the power of winter remains a strong opponent, but who knows what will happen in the next five years!

 

Hurricane Bertha leaves the UK with record breaking amounts of wind power!

4 Sep

This August we observed a huge shift in power from coal to wind. With hurricane Bertha leaving trails of her ruin pummelling the UK with wind and rain, wind turbines around the country provided more power to the UK grid than coal plants. RenewableUK, the country’s leading renewable trade association, announced on Monday that UK wind had surpassed coal on the 3rd, 9th, 11th, 12th, and 17th of August 2014.

RenewableUK found wind averaged over 5 gigawatts (GW) of power, with high winds in the evening meaning the clean energy overtook coal. It was found that between 9.30pm and 10pm on Sunday August 11, wind generation was at the highest percentage share for the month so far, meeting 17% of national demand.

Jennifer Webber, The director of External affairs at RenewableUK stated: “Wind energy is taking its place as the UK’s new powerhouse, overtaking coal and nuclear as one of the most important resources we have to keep Britain’s lights on”.

Taking Hurricane Bertha out of the equation, wind power generation has been coming on leaps and bounds when we consider the construction of new wind farms around the country, not only onshore but offshore also for example The London Array. Both offshore and onshore wind generation have continued to increase from 2012–2014. Recent energy statistics from the Department of Energy and Climate Change found both onshore and offshore load factors exceeded or equalled that of gas.

Jennifer Webber continued “It continues to surpass its own records, and these figures prove that can happen at any time of year. As we approach autumn and winter, we can expect wind to maintain this strong August’s performance and provide electricity when demand is especially high.”

Wind also bypassed nuclear on the 29th of August, racking up 5,805 MW. This compared to 5,379MW generated by nuclear power shows the progression of clean energy generation.

On 11th August wind broke a record by providing 21% of the UK’s electricity needs, this record was then broken on the 17th August, when wind went on to generate 22% of the UK’s electricity demand.

“We’re seeing very high levels of generation from wind throughout August so far, proving yet again that onshore and offshore wind has become an absolutely fundamental component in this country’s energy mix,” said Webber earlier in August. “It also shows that wind is a dependable and reliable source of power in every month of year – including high summer.”

In December 2013, the UK saw 13% of its energy needs met by wind power. This August met 10% of that energy demand which is amazing when you think it’s a high summer month where wind strengths are generally lower. It’s clear that if the UK wind industry keeps expanding and developing we will be seeing new records especially coming into the autumn and winter months.

The UK is still a world leader in offshore wind with a total of 62 offshore wind projects in the UK, including those in development. Pretty impressive for this little island!

 

Meet El Hierro…The first island powered 100% by wind!

11 Jul

Ahhh the Canary Islands the place of sun and sand…and the first place of 100% wind power! The smallest of the Canary Islands ‘El Hierro’ has become the first Island in the world to be 100% wind-powered. The island is owned by Spain and is located off the coast of Africa. They have built five wind turbines on the North Eastern tip of the Island for a capacity of 11.5 megawatts. The population of El Hierro is 10,162 as of 2003, therefore the 11.5 megawatts would be enough for all the people who live there.

According to the Ministry for Industry, Tourism and Commerce, El Hierro has become the first island in the world to be energy self-sufficient. They have achieved this through a €54 million project combining a greater than 11 megawatt wind farm and two hydroelectric projects.

They have even implemented a back-up plan for when the wind isn’t blowing! Back-up power will be provided from pumped water storage. The hybrid wind/pumped hydro storage system will store surplus wind power by pumping water up 700 meters (approximately 2,300 feet) to fill the crater of an extinct volcano. When winds are calm or when demand exceeds supply, water will be released from the crater to generate 11.3 MW of electricity, filling an artificial basin created at the bottom of the extinct volcano. Water in the lower basin is then pumped back up again to the upper reservoir when there is excess wind power.

In terms of their carbon footprint, the wind farm and pumped water storage will slash their CO2 emissions by around 18,700 tonnes per year. The project will also eliminate the islands annual consumption of 40,000 barrels of oil. This being said, as a back-up precaution El Hierro will maintain its fuel oil power station. Makes sense I guess?

The closed-loop hybrid wind/hydro system was tested at the end of 2013, and they expect to save approximately £2.5M per year (calculated with January 2011 oil prices).

Hopefully other island nations take encouragement from El Hierro. Many of the surrounding islands burn oil to produce their electricity. The alternative wind, hydro and solar options and much cleaner and potentially make fuel cost free after the initial set up costs.

As of May 2014, the island has become completely self-sufficient for electrical energy. Well done El Hierro!

Denmark comes home with the bacon!

23 May

Denmark…the creators of Pandora (one of the world’s biggest jewellery brands), LEGO (Something for the children) and let’s not forget the creators of the famous Danish pastry. What does this have to do with energy efficiency you might ask?

Denmark have only gone and won the prestigious energy efficiency prize (Woohoo). Since 1980, the Danish economy has grown by 78%, while energy consumption has remained more or less constant, and CO2 emissions have been reduced.

Around 30% of Denmark’s electricity is generated via wind power. To encourage investment in wind power, families were offered a tax exemption for generating their own electricity within their own or an adjoining commune. While this could involve purchasing a turbine outright, more often families purchased shares in wind turbine cooperatives which in turn invested in community wind turbines. By 2004 over 150,000 Danes were either members of cooperatives or owned turbines.

Solar power also has a big part to play, as the country reached its year 2020 government goal of 200 MW solar cell capacities in 2012, and has 500 MW solar capacities in 90,000 private installations as of 2013.

A notable mention is also the countries two geothermal district heating plants, one in Thisted started in 1988, and one in Copenhagen started in 2005.

The ‘EE Visionary Award’ was accepted by Peter Taksøe-Jensen (Denmark’s ambassador to the US) at Washington DC. The award acknowledges the countries efforts at reducing energy consumption nationally and abroad.

The climate and energy minister, Rasmus Helveg Petersen, has said in a press release:

“I am excited to receive this award, which I believe confirms Denmark’s position among the world’s leaders at getting the most out of each kilowatt-hour,”

Denmark has taken energy efficiency work very seriously over the last decade and in 2011 the Danish government announced the “Energy Strategy 2050” with the aim to be fully independent of fossil fuels by 2050. When it comes to their wind power generation, the government targets 50% wind power in the electricity system by 2020.

Rasmus Helveg Petersen also went on to say;

“Over the years, Danish energy policy has required courage and investment, but it has in turn reaped major benefits, both environmentally and economically.”

Denmark weren’t the only prize winners, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lee Jong-Cheol also received awards for their efforts in reducing energy consumption at a regional and local level. The trophy is handed out in association with the annual energy conference Energy Efficiency Global Forum.

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