The Anonymous Widower

How Britannia With Help From Her Friends Can Rule The Waves And The Wind

The Government doesn’t seem to have published its future energy plans yet, but that hasn’t stopped the BBC speculating in this article on their web site, which is entitled Energy Strategy: UK Plans Eight New Nuclear Reactors To Boost Production.

These are the first two paragraphs.

Up to eight more nuclear reactors could be delivered on existing sites as part of the UK’s new energy strategy.

The plan, which aims to boost UK energy independence and tackle rising prices, also includes plans to increase wind, hydrogen and solar production.

Other points include.

  • Up to 95% of the UK’s electricity could come from low-carbon sources by 2030.
  • 50 gigawatts (GW) of energy through offshore wind farms, which  would be more than enough to power every home in the UK.
  • One of the big points of contention is thought to have been the construction of onshore wind turbines.
  • Targets for hydrogen production are being doubled to help provide cleaner energy for industry as well as for power, transport and potentially heating.
  • A new licensing round for North Sea oil and gas projects.
  • A heat pump accelerator program.

In this post I shall only be looking at one technology – offshore wind and in particular offshore floating wind.

Who Are Our Friends?

I will start with explaining, who I see as our friends, in the title of this post.

The Seas Around Us

If we are talking about offshore winds around the the UK, then the seas around the UK are surely our biggest and most-needed friend.

The Island Of Ireland

The seas are shared with the island of Ireland and the UK and the Republic must work together to maximise our joint opportunities.

As some of the largest offshore wind farm proposals, between Wales and Ireland involve a Welsh company called Blue Gem Wind, who are a partnership between Irish company; Simply Blue Energy, and French company; TotalEnergies, we already seem to be working with the Irish and the French.

The City Of London

Large insurance and pension companies, based in the City of London like, abrdn, Aviva, L & G and others are always looking for investments with which to provide income to back their insurance business and our pensions.

In World’s Largest Wind Farm Attracts Huge Backing From Insurance Giant, I describe why and how, Aviva back wind farms.

Germany

Germany are certainly on our side, despite being in a mess of Mutti Merkel’s making, because she got the country too deeply dependant on Vlad the Mad’s tainted gas.

  • German utilities are providing finance to build wind farms in British waters.
  • German company; Siemens is manufacturing turbine blades in Hull.
  • Germany wouldn’t mind buying any electricity and hydrogen we have spare. Especially, as we haven’t invaded them since 1944.

I suspect a mutually-beneficial relationship can be negotiated.

Norway

I have customised software for a number of countries, including Iran, Saudi Arabia, South Korea and the United States and despite selling large numbers of systems to Norway, the Norwegians never requested any modifications.

They are generally easy-going people and they are great friends of the UK. They were certainly a fertile country for the sale of Artemis systems.

Just as the UK worked together with the Norwegians to deliver North Sea Oil, we are now starting to work together to develop renewable energy in the North Sea.

In UK To Norway Sub-Sea Green Power Cable Operational, I describe how we have built the North Sea Link with the Norwegians, which will link the British and Norwegian energy networks to our mutual benefit.

In Is This The World’s Most Ambitious Green Energy Solution?, I describe an ambitious plan called Northern Horizons, proposed by Norwegian company; Aker to build a 10 GW floating wind farm, which will be 120 km to the North-East of the Shetlands.

Floating Wind Turbines

This is the introduction of the Wikipedia entry for floating wind turbines.

A floating wind turbine is an offshore wind turbine mounted on a floating structure that allows the turbine to generate electricity in water depths where fixed-foundation turbines are not feasible. Floating wind farms have the potential to significantly increase the sea area available for offshore wind farms, especially in countries with limited shallow waters, such as Japan, France and US West coast. Locating wind farms further offshore can also reduce visual pollution, provide better accommodation for fishing and shipping lanes, and reach stronger and more consistent winds.

At its simplest a floating wind farm consists of a semi-submersible platform, which is securely anchored to the sea-bed to provide a firm platform on which to erect a standard wind turbine.

There are currently two operational floating wind farms off the East Coast of Scotland and one in the Atlantic off the Portuguese coast.

  • These wind farms are fairly small and use between three and five turbines to generate between 25-50 MW.
  • The largest current floating turbines are the 9.5 MW turbines in the Kincardine Wind Farm in Scotland, but already engineers are talking of 14 MW and 20 MW floating turbines.
  • Experience of the operation of floating wind turbines, indicates that they can have capacity factors in excess of 50 %.
  • Floating wind turbines can be erected on their floats in the safety of a port using a dockside crane and then towed into position.
  • Floating wind turbines can be towed into a suitable port for servicing and upgrading.

Many serious engineers and economists, think that floating wind farms are the future.

The Energy Density of Fixed Foundation And Floating Wind Farms

In ScotWind Offshore Wind Leasing Delivers Major Boost To Scotland’s Net Zero Aspirations, I summarised the latest round of Scotwind offshore wind leases.

  • Six new fixed foundation wind farms will give a capacity of 9.7 GW in 3042 km² or about 3.2 MW per km².
  • Ten new floating wind farms will give a capacity of 14.6 GW in 4193 km² or about 3.5 MW per km².

Note.

  1. Floating wind farms have a small advantage in terms of energy density over those with fixed foundations.
  2. Suppose these energy densities are achieved using 14 MW turbines.
  3. Engineers are talking of 20 MW turbines.
  4. Using large turbines could increase the energy density by 20/14 or 43 %

We could see in a few years with 20 MW turbines, fixed foundation turbines having an energy density of 4.6 MW per km², with floating turbines having 5 MW per km².

The Potential Of A Ten-Mile Square In The Seas Around Us

I will assume.

  • It is at least 100 km from land.
  • The water would be at least 100 metres deep.
  • There are no structures in the area.

And calculate.

  • The area will be a hundred square miles, which is smaller than the county of Rutland.
  • This will be 259 square kilometres.

If it were to be filled with floating wind turbines at a density of 5 MW per km², the capacity would be 1300 MW or 1.3 GW.

There must be hundreds of empty ten-mile squares in the seas around us.

Offshore Hydrogen Production And Storage

I believe in the near future, that a lot of offshore wind energy will be converted to hydrogen offshore.

  • Electrolysers could be combined with wind turbines.
  • Larger electrolysers could be combined with sub-stations collecting the electricity.
  • In Torvex Energy, I discuss a method to create hydrogen from seawater, without having to desalinate the water. Surely, this technology would be ideal for offshore electrolysis.

Hydrogen would be brought to shore using pipelines, some of which could be repurposed from existing gas pipelines, that are now redundant, as the gas-fields they served have no gas left.

I also suspect that hydrogen could be stored in a handy depleted gas field or perhaps some form of specialist storage infrastructure.

Combining Wind And Wave Power In A Single Device

Marine Power Systems are a Welsh company, that has developed a semi-submersible structure, that can support a large wind turbine and/or a wave-power generator.

This is the mission statement on their home page.

Marine Power Systems is revolutionising the way in which we harvest energy from the world’s oceans.

Our flexible technology is the only solution of its type that can be configured to harness wind and wave energy, either as a combined solution or on their own, in deep water. Built on common platform our devices deliver both cost efficiency and performance throughout the entire product lifecycle.

Our structurally efficient floating platform, PelaFlex, brings excellent stability and straightforward deployment and maintenance. The PelaGen wave energy converter represents market-leading technology and generates energy at an extremely competitive cost of energy.

Through optimised farm layout and the combination of wind and wave energy, project developers can best exploit the energy resource for any given area of seabed.

We are unlocking the power of oceans.

There is a link on the page to more pages, that explain the technology.

It looks to me, that it is well-designed technology, that has a high-chance of being successful.

It should also be noted that according to this news page on the Marine Power Systems web site, which is entitled MPS Lands £3.5M Of Funding From UK Government, the UK government feel the technology is worth backing.

I certainly believe that if Marine Power Systems are not successful, then someone else will build on their original work.

If wind and wave power can successfully be paired in a single float, then this must surely increase the energy production at each float/turbine in the floating wind farm.

Energy Storage In Wind Turbines

The output of wind farms can be very variable, as the wind huffs and puffs, but I believe we will see energy storage in wind turbines to moderate the electricity and deliver a steadier output.

Using lithium-ion or other batteries may be possible, but with floating offshore turbines, there might be scope to use the deep sea beneath the float and the turbine.

Hybrid Wind Farms

In the latest round of Scotwind offshore wind leases, one wind farm stands out as different. Magnora ASA’s ScotWind N3 Offshore Wind Farm is described as a floating offshore wind farm with a concrete floater.

I can see more wind farms built using this model, where there is another fixed or floating platform acts as control centre, sub-station, energy store or hydrogen electrolyser.

How Much Electricity Could Be Produced In UK And Irish Waters?

I will use the following assumptions.

  • Much of the new capacity will be floating wind turbines in deep water.
  • The floating wind turbines are at a density of around 5 MW per km²

This Google Map shows the British Isles.

I will look at various seas.

The Celtic Sea

The Celtic Sea is to the South-West of Wales and the South of Ireland.

In Blue Gem Wind, I posted this extract from the The Our Projects page of the Blue Gem Wind web site.

Floating wind is set to become a key technology in the fight against climate change with over 80% of the worlds wind resource in water deeper than 60 metres. Independent studies have suggested there could be as much as 50GW of electricity capacity available in the Celtic Sea waters of the UK and Ireland. This renewable energy resource could play a key role in the UK meeting the 2050 Net-Zero target required to mitigate climate change. Floating wind will provide new low carbon supply chain opportunities, support coastal communities and create long-term benefits for the region.

Consider.

  • The key figure would appear 50 GW of electricity capacity available in the Celtic Sea waters of the UK and Ireland.
  • Earlier I said that floating turbines can have a wind turbine density of 5 MW per km².
  • According to Wikipedia, the surface area of the Celtic Sea is 300,000 km².

To accommodate enough floating turbines to generate 50 GW would need 10000 km², which is a 100 km. square, or 3.33 % of the area of the Celtic Sea.

This wind generation capacity of 50 GW would appear to be feasible in the Celtic Sea and still leave plenty of space for the shipping.

The Irish Sea

According to Wikipedia, the surface area of the Irish Sea is 46,000 km².

Currently, there are ten wind farms in the Irish Sea.

  • Six are in English waters, three are in Welsh and one is in Irish.
  • None are more than sixteen kilometres from the coast.

The total power is 2.7 GW.

I feel that the maximum number of wind farms in the Irish Sea would not cover more than the 3.33 % proposed for the Celtic Sea.

3.33 % of the Irish Sea would be 1532 km², which could support 7.6 GW of wind-generated electricity.

I can’t leave the Irish Sea without talking about two wind farms Mona and Morgan, that are being developed by an enBW and BP joint venture, which I discussed in Mona, Morgan And Morven. This infographic from the joint venture describes Mona and Morgan.

That would appear to be a 3 GW development underway in the Irish Sea.

Off The Coast Of South-East England, East Anglia, Lincolnshire And Yorkshire

These wind farms are proposed in these areas.

Note.

All wind farms have comprehensive web sites or Wikipedia entries.

The total capacity of these wind farms is 22.5 GW

The North Sea

According to Wikipedia, the surface area of the North Sea is 570,000 km².

Would it is reasonable to assume, that perhaps a tenth of this area would be available for new wind farms in UK waters?

3.33 % of the available North Sea would be 1898 km², which could support 9.5 GW of wind-generated electricity.

On The East Coast Of Scotland

In Wind Farms On The East Coast Of Scotland, I summarised the wind farms off the East coast of Scotland, that are being built in a cluster in the First of Forth.

This map shows the proposed wind farms in this area.

There are five wind farms in the map.

  • The green area is the cable corridor for Seagreen 1a
  • Inch Cape is the odd-shaped wind farm to the North and West of the green area
  • Seagreen at the top of the map, to the North of Inch Cape.
  • Marr Bank with the pink NE-SW hatching
  • Berwick Bank with the green NW-SE hatching
  • Neart Na Gaoithe is edged in blue to the South of the green area.

Berwick Bank and Marr Bank are both owned by SSE and appear to have been combined.

The capacity of the wind farms can be summarised as follows.

  • Seagreen – 1075 MW
  • Neart Na Gaoithe – 450 MW
  • Inch Cape – 1000 MW
  • Berwick Bank and Marr Bank – 4100 MW

This gives a total of 6625 MW or just over 6.6 GW.

Around The North Of Scotland

This map shows the latest successful ScotWind leases.

Note.

  1. Several of these proposed wind farms have detailed web sites.

These seventeen leases total up to 24.3 GW.

An Interim Total

I believe these figures are realisable.

  • Celtic Sea – 50 GW
  • Irish Sea – 7.6 GW – 3 GW already underway
  • South East England, East Anglia, Lincolnshire And Yorkshire – 22.5 GW
  • North Sea – 9.5 GW
  • On The East Coast Of Scotland – 6.6 GW
  • Around The North Of Scotland – 24.3 GW

Note.

  1. I have tried to be as pessimistic as possible.
  2. Irish and North Sea estimates are based on Blue Gem Wind’s professional estimate for the Celtic Sea.
  3. I have used published figures where possible.

My estimates total up to 120.1 GW of extra wind-power capacity. As I write this, current UK electricity production is around 33 GW.

Vikings Will Invade

This Google Map shows the Faroe Islands, the North of Scotland, Norway and Denmark.

To get an idea of scale, the Shetland Isles are around 70 miles or 113 km. from North to South.

In Is This The World’s Most Ambitious Green Energy Solution?, I talked about Norwegian company; Aker Solutions’s plan for Northern Horizons.

  • It would be a 10 GW offshore floating wind farm 136 km to the North-East of the Shetlands.
  • This position would probably place it about halfway between the Faroes and the Norwegian coast.
  • The project is best described in this article on the Engineer, which is entitled Northern Horizons Plans Clean Energy Exports For Scotland.
  • In the article, there is a good graphic and a video.

This will be offshore engineering of the highest class, but then I first came across Norwegian offshore engineering like this in the 1970s, where nothing was too difficult for Norwegian engineers.

There are two major points to remember about the Norwegians.

  • They have the Sovereign Wealth Fund to pay for the massive investment in Northern Horizons.
  • They need to replace their oil and gas income, with a zero-carbon investment stream.

I feel that Northern Horizons will not be a one-off and the virgin sea in the map above will be liberally carpeted with more floating wind farms.

  • On Shetland, electricity can be fed into the UK grid.
  • On Norway, electricity can be fed into the Norwegian grid or stored in Norwegian pumped storage systems.
  • On Scotland, more pumped storage systems can be built to store energy.
  • Hydrogen can be piped to where it is needed to decarbonise heavy industry and transport.
  • Norwegian fjords, Shetland harbours, Scottish lochs and possibly Scapa Flow would be ideal places to assemble and service the giant floating turbines and build the other needed floating infrastructure.
  • I can also see Denmark getting in on the act, as they will probably want to decarbonise the Faroe Islands.

I estimate that between the Faroes, Scotland and Norway, there are 510,000 km² of virgin sea.

With a potential of 5 MW per km², that area has the potential to create an amazing amount of both electricity and hydrogen.

Exporting Power To Europe

There will need to be more interconnectors from the UK to Europe.

These are already working.

These are proposed.

There are also gas interconnectors, that could be converted to hydrogen.

This press release from National Grid, which is entitled Undersea Electricity Superhighways That Will Help Deliver Net Zero Move A Step Closer, has these bullet points.

  • Positive progress on plans for £3.4bn electricity super-highway projects – Scotland to England Green Links.
  • Ofgem opens consultation that recognises the “clear case” and “consumer benefit” of two subsea high voltage cables to transport clean between Scotland and England.
  • The cables form part of a planned 16 project £10 billion investment from National Grid to deliver on the government’s target of 40GW of offshore wind generation by 2030.

This paragraph expands on the work by National Grid to meet the third point.

These projects are part of National Grid’s work upgrading the electricity transmission system to deliver the UK government’s target of 40GW of offshore wind generation by 2030. In addition to the Eastern Links, it is developing 14 major projects across its network to facilitate the target representing a £10 billion investment. This includes two further Scotland to England high voltage links (also in partnership with the Scottish transmission network owners) and proposals in the Humber, Lincolnshire, East Midlands, North of England, Yorkshire, North Kent, as well as four in East Anglia (one of which is a proposed offshore link between Suffolk and Kent).

I think we can assume, that National Grid will do their part to allow the UK government’s target of 40GW of offshore wind generation by 2030 to be met.

Will The UK Have 40 GW Of Offshore Wind Generation By 2030?

In the Wikipedia entry for Windpower In The UK, this is the opening sentence.

The United Kingdom is one of the best locations for wind power in the world and is considered to be the best in Europe. By the beginning of March 2022, the UK had 11,091 wind turbines with a total installed capacity of over 24.6 gigawatts (GW): 14.1 GW of onshore capacity and 10.4 GW of offshore capacity.

It would appear an extra 30 GW of wind power is needed.

In An Interim Total earlier, I gave these figures.

  • Celtic Sea – 50 GW
  • Irish Sea – 7.6 GW – 3 GW already underway
  • South East England, East Anglia, Lincolnshire And Yorkshire – 22.5 GW
  • North Sea – 9.5 GW
  • On The East Coast Of Scotland – 6.6 GW
  • ScotWind – 24.3 GW

The wind farms in South East England, East Anglia, Lincolnshire And Yorkshire and ScotWind and Mona and Morgan are either being planned or under construction, and in many cases leases to construct wind farms are being paid.

I would feel, that at least 30 GW of these 56.4 GW of wind farms will be completed by 2030.

Conclusion

Boris’s vision of the UK becoming a Saudi Arabia of wind is no fantasy of a man with massive dreams.

Standard floating wind turbines, with the possibility of also harvesting wave power could be assembled in ports along the coasts, towed into position and then connected up.

Several GW of wind-power capacity could probably be added each year to what would become the largest zero-carbon power station in the world.

By harvesting the power of the winds and waves in the seas around the British Isles it is an engineering and mathematical possibility, that could have been developed by any of those great visionary Victorian engineers like Armstrong, Bazalgette, Brunel and Reynolds, if they had had access to our modern technology.

Up Yours! Putin!

 

 

 

April 19, 2022 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage, Hydrogen | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments