Powersystems Wind Energy NewsWatch Update April 2021

Powersystems Wind Energy NewsWatch Update April 2021

The Powersystems Renewables NewsWatch provides a roundup of the latest headlines relating to Wind Energy

With more investments in the efficiency, scale of wind and a strong project pipeline, the wind energy sector is a key enabler for the UK economy to achieve net zero by 2050.

Alongside contributions from other technologies, meeting this target will require a tenfold increase in offshore wind generating capacity to about 100 GW, which would be one of the biggest infrastructure projects the country has ever undertaken.

Wind energy relies on wind turbines to generate electricity. As the blades turn, they rotate a generator and a shaft that converts the energy into electricity. The UK is one of the best places in the world for wind-powered energy. The National Grid ESO explains electricity and wind power.

New records for green electricity

The news that Britain’s National Grid set a new record for green electricity on Easter Monday and again on the May bank holiday is a further sign that we are heading in the right direction – not just in the fight against climate change but also in terms of modernising our economy.

Offshore and onshore wind turbines generated a new high of 17.6 gigawatts of power on Monday afternoon, enough to power 3.5 million kettles, according to the Guardian. This represents nearly half (48.5%) of the electricity grid in England, Scotland and Wales, according to data from operator National Grid ESO, and beats the previous record of 17.5 GW set on 13 February 2021.

The average UK household requires around 3700 kWh of electricity per year and 12,000 kWh of gas. To help supply this, there are 8,600 onshore wind turbines and 3,000 offshore wind turbines in the UK.

The UK offshore wind sector generated enough green electricity for 39% /10.8 million of UK homes (40.7 TWh) in 2020, up from 30% (32TWh) in 2019.

Key insights into UK offshore wind sector

Aprils Powersystems NewsWatch sees The Crown Estate publish its ninth Offshore Wind Operational Report, which provides in-depth insight into the progress of the UK’s offshore wind sector. It paints a picture of a mature, robust and healthy market which is progressing at pace to deliver a strong and sustainable pipeline in support of the nation’s net zero ambitions.

In less than 20 years on from the first offshore wind farm being installed, the UK remains number one in the world for offshore wind installed capacity, with 14 GW of total capacity.

The  report also advises that the most significant change in 2020 was the shift in project status, with three large projects moving into the under-construction phase. Project capacity under construction increased by over 60% from 4.4GW to 7.2GW due to a final investment decision (FID) being reached on Dogger Bank A and B projects. This marked the start of construction on what will be the world’s largest offshore wind farm, a title currently held by Hornsea 1, which is located off the east coast of England and became the largest offshore wind farm in the world, capable of supplying energy needs of one million UK homes. The wind farm has a planned total capacity of up to 6 GW.  Dogger Bank is also furthest from shore at 130km off the North East English coast. The 1,050 MW Seagreen project also achieved FID in June and construction has started onshore for what is expected to be Scotland’s largest offshore wind farm. Recently RWE has committed to building its biggest ever wind farm off the UK coast after making a final investment decision on a £3bn 1.4-gigawatt offshore wind farm called Sofia.

The Government’s 2050 net zero ambitions, combined with its Ten Point Plan and Energy White Paper which set out an aspiration for the UK to achieve 40 GW of offshore wind by 2030, has helped fuel momentum in the sector.

Wind energy around the globe

The recently published Global Wind Report 2021 has found that the global wind power market has nearly quadrupled in size over the past decade with record growth in 2020 driven by a surge of installations in China and the US, together, the US and China installed 75% of new installations in 2020 and account for over half of the world’s total wind power capacity. Today, there is now 743 GW of wind power capacity worldwide.

The report shows that the current rate of wind power deployment will not be enough to achieve carbon neutrality by the middle of this century, and said “urgent action” must be taken by policymakers now to scale up wind power at the necessary pace.

Scenarios that have been established by international energy bodies such as IRENA and the IEA, state a minimum of 180 GW of new wind needs to be installed every year to limit global warming to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, and will need to increase to 280 GW annually to maintain a pathway compliant with meeting net zero by 2050.

Current challenges in the wind energy market

As renewable energy grows, wind energy will become the backbone of energy systems in many parts of the world, requiring us to move beyond the focus on simply increasing wind energy capacity to instead instigating new collaborations with stakeholders across the global energy system to uncover more powerful policies and unlock greater investments to fuel the Sustainable Energy Transition.

  • This entails expanding our reach to cover key issues such as limited customers on the grid, grid build-out, storage, market redesign and accelerating the deployment of renewable energy to new sectors.
  • Red tape and antiquated planning and permitting systems are slowing down the Energy Transition all over the world – many countries share similar challenges in market design, where investment in wind energy is available but policy conditions undermine the viability of projects.
  • Primarily countries in the Global South, renewable energy uptake faces structural barriers, such as energy access shortfalls and affordability gaps in the power sector. Worldwide, 770 million people still lack electricity access, and this is set to shrink only moderately to 430 million people by 2030

A team to combat wind energy challenges

The Global Wind Energy Coalition for COP26 was launched in April to help governments deliver on their Net Zero targets through the scaling up of investment and wind programme ambitions. The campaign is being led by the Global Wind Energy Council and RenewableUK and will focus on the build up to COP26 in Glasgow:

  • Highlighting the role of wind power in decarbonisation
  • Developing wind energy acceleration plans with policymakers in key onshore and offshore wind markets
  • Building collaborations with other technologies and heavy industries that work towards system-wide decarbonisation in a global renewable energy alliance; and
  • Creating a global Sprint for Offshore Wind Ambition to support governments achieve the global 1,400 GW target by 2050 set by the Ocean Renewable Energy Action Coalition.

New enabling technologies

Large-scale wind penetration will require balancing and storage technologies to maintain a cost effective and secure transition. Hybrid renewable tenders with wind, solar and battery elements are now picking up around the world, but storage technologies will need to be competitive and scalable to disincentivise support of polluting and inflexible energy systems.

Concurrent to the transformation of infrastructure to enable grid interconnectivity and sector coupling, the production of green hydrogen as a key storage solution will need to be economically viable.

With hydrogen now playing a prominent role in national energy strategies, from Germany to Australia to Chile to South Korea, it is no longer meaningful to dismiss it as over-hyped. But it is worth examining the political and economic constraints of Power-to-X and green hydrogen to understand the degree to which they can accelerate the shift to carbon neutrality, and whether we are indeed headed towards the age of the “hydrogen economy”.

Of all renewable energies, offshore wind and wind/solar hybrid projects have the highest potential to improve the economics of green hydrogen projects due to cost competitiveness and scalability.

Wind energy the future for meeting business requirements 

UK launches offshore wind partnership to protect and restore marine environment

UK launches offshore wind partnership to protect and restore marine environment

The Crown Estate and UK government have today launched a new offshore wind partnership to protect and restore the country’s marine environment as it seeks to chart a course towards net-zero emissions by unlocking the green energy potential of the UK seabed.

The partnership, called the ‘Offshore Wind Evidence and Change Programme’, will gather and harness data and evidence to drive forward the growth of the sector in the UK.

The partnership will be led by The Crown Estate, which has committed to a five-year £25m kick-starter investment for the programme, alongside strategic partners the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

Together with the devolved governments, the collaboration will bring together more than 20 stakeholder organisations and support the government’s wider efforts to develop a vision for the future of the offshore wind sector.

The Programme’s strategic research and data projects will provide insights to help the sector better understand and address environmental considerations and interactions with other industries and activities, both around the coast and offshore.

This will enable a more coordinated and strategic approach to the delivery of the new infrastructure required to deliver net-zero emissions by 2050, to ensure the sector can deliver at pace while protecting the broader natural environment.

Initial projects through the partnership, include an East Coast Grid Spatial study, to be delivered with National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO), National Grid Electricity Transmission and The Marine Management Organisation.

This will help build understanding of the interactions that future offshore wind farms on the east coast of England are likely to face when connecting into the electricity network and whether alternative approaches to connection can reduce community and environmental impacts.

There is also to be a Future Offshore Wind Scenarios project, which will be a UK-wide study delivered with Crown Estate Scotland and BEIS.

The project will develop and examine spatial scenarios, to better understand the opportunities for future offshore wind deployment.

Offshore Wind Industry Council co-chair and Vattenfall UK country manager Danielle Lane, said: “This programme will help to ensure that we continue to install vitally-needed new offshore wind capacity in an environmentally sensitive way.

“Safeguarding our precious marine ecosystem is a key factor in the way we work as responsible developers.

“Minimising any impact of the infrastructure needed to connect our projects to the electricity network is as important to us as it is to local communities which are being regenerated by offshore wind.

“This ambitious programme brings together industry, government and wildlife organisations to create a new forum which will help us to reach the Prime Minister’s target of 40GW of offshore wind by 2030 while protecting wildlife and working closer with the communities hosting us”.

The Crown Estate chief executive Dan Labbad said: “Recognising the crucial role of the nation’s seabed on our path to net zero, I’m delighted to launch this new partnership which will help lay sustainable foundations for the next phase of the offshore wind success story, in a way which will help us to maintain healthy, biodiverse seas.

“The partnership will be at the centre of how we ensure a more coordinated approach to delivering the infrastructure that will be required to tackle climate change.”

UK Energy Minister Kwasi Kwarteng said: “The UK is already a world leader in offshore wind energy and the Government’s Ten Point Plan has laid out a bold ambition to lead the green industrial revolution by embracing innovative new technologies.

“Creating jobs and increasing capacity to 40 GW by the end of this decade will be key to helping us reach our commitment for net zero carbon emissions by 2050, but safeguarding our precious marine environment remains a priority, which is why this partnership is so important.”

UK Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said: “It is important that we all work together to bring about change and reduce our contribution to climate change.

“Renewable energy plays a key role in this and as we work to increase renewable sources of energy we must ensure that our precious marine environment is protected at the same time.

“I am delighted that Defra is a part of this programme, providing expert advice relating to the growing calls on our marine space so that we can deliver offshore developments while protecting our unique marine resources.”

The programme also brings together a steering group which includes Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland government bodies, regulators including the Marine Management Organisation, non-governmental organisations such as RSPB and The Wildlife Trusts, and RenewableUK on behalf of the industry.

The partnership is borne out of last year’s Offshore Wind Sector Deal, which aims to build on the UK’s global leadership in offshore wind and maximise economic benefits across the whole of the UK.

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SPR calls for ‘forward-looking, cohesive’ UK wind policy

SPR calls for ‘forward-looking, cohesive’ UK wind policy

ScottishPower Renewables chief executive Lindsay McQuade has called for a “forward-looking” and “cohesive” wind policy approach to support UK wind.

Speaking at the start of UK Wind Week 2020, she said ‘that while many of the building blocks are in place” a joined-up approach was needed “across planning, grid, supply chain and energy policy”. She said that would “help us deliver the outcomes that will benefit the environment, aid the transition to green transport and heating, and support the economy by catalysing investment, creating green jobs, and firmly marking out the UK’s position as a global leader in wind”.

“Action now will make a real difference – not just in the long-term, but in the here and now – as we work to achieve a resilient, green and sustainable economic recovery that will help us meet net zero,” she added.

McQuade  said the week was a chance to “celebrate the fabulous natural resource we have in Great Britain and its central role in shaping a low-carbon energy system”  that could help deliver a green recovery and support ambitious climate targets towards net zero.

She said increasing renewables to support an “all-electric future” was central to these targets, adding: “while that may sound straightforward, in practice it means quadrupling generation from renewable sources output across the UK in the coming decades, with wind generation doing the heavy lifting”.

Onshore, offshore and floating wind each presented significant opportunities “the length and breadth of the country”, she added.

Onshore is the lowest cost and most proven “means of delivering rapid decarbonisation at scale” within investment in it making “perfect sense” and delivering jobs and community benefits.

“The onshore wind farms ScottishPower will be investing in will be cutting-edge – embracing innovative solutions and the latest technologies to allow hybridisation with solar PV and battery storage, so that green energy will produce electricity and also have an effective role in supporting a resilient and flexible electricity grid system.”

She said that would allow use of natural resources and existing grid connections to be optimised, generation maximised, and deliver cost-effective electricity, and highlighted SPR’s plans to invest over £3.7bn in the five years to 2025, doubling its renewables capacity.

She added: “This includes construction of around 2.1GW of innovative onshore wind, solar PV and battery storage projects across the UK, some of which will be hybrid ‘energy parks’, as well as developing our plans for a 3.1GW offshore East Anglia Hub.

“A further 3GW of onshore projects are also being progressed as part of our pipeline beyond 2025.”

She said: “We estimate it will support more than 7000 jobs in a range of occupations – we will need technicians, project managers, engineers, analysts, lawyers, and even ecologists to make this happen.

“The range of career opportunities presented by investing in wind generation is exciting and inspiring for those considering how they want to make a contribution to a better future, quicker.

“With billions of pounds of investment supporting an extensive supply chain, creating thousands of jobs, and delivering economic and social benefits to local people, businesses and communities, the UK needs to grasp the opportunity and work to establish the policies and frameworks from which these outcomes can be achieved – all with the goal of Net Zero in mind.”

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Onshore work starts for 3.6 GW Dogger Bank

Onshore work starts for 3.6 GW Dogger Bank

Subcontractor Jones Bros Civil Engineering has begun the first section of earthworks for the converter stations for the 3.6 GW Dogger Bank offshore wind farm.

The converter stations, south of Beverley in the East Riding of Yorkshire, will receive an AC current via the cables from the wind turbines and convert it to a DC current before sending it to the National Grid.

Jones Bros has also started ducting activities on the high voltage DC cable route from Ulrome to Beverley for the Dogger Bank A and Dogger Bank B projects.

Dogger Bank will be located more than 130km off the Yorkshire coast in the North Sea and is being developed in three 1.2GW phases by joint venture partners SSE Renewables and Equinor.

The project is the first wind farm in the world to use HVDC technology, due to its distance from shore.

The HVDC route comprises of 30km of ducting with trenches totalling 120km for ducting and cables.

Horizontal directional drilling is also taking place to install the cabling ducting beneath existing structures, including roads, railways, canals, common land and rivers with minimal disruption.

Jones Bros is also continuing to build access tracks, with 13km in place since the civil engineering contractor started on site earlier in the year.

The full works are expected to take two and a half years to complete. Jones Bros contracts director Garod Evans said: “We have more than 30 horizontal drills to carry out, which includes building a drilling pit to allow our supply chain partner Johnston Trenchless Solutions, also UK based, to operate.

“The horizontal drilling method will be used on multiple roads, canals, a river and a railway line to avoid unnecessary disruption.

“The team are also carrying out earthworks and drainage ahead of the installation of the convertor station platform where the cables will run to.”

Dogger Bank Wind Farm project manager Ollie Flattery said: “Jones Brothers have done a fantastic job getting project construction underway in such challenging circumstances, whilst ensuring those working on site, as well as the community in which they are operating are kept safe.

“We look forward to continuing working with Jones Brothers on the project in the months ahead as we develop the innovative infrastructure needed to provide clean energy for millions of UK households.”

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GE wraps up Haliade-X certification with DNV GL

GE wraps up Haliade-X certification with DNV GL

GE Renewable Energy’s Haliade-X 13 MW prototype, the world’s most powerful wind turbine in operation, has received a full type certificate from DNV GL.

This full type certification, which follows a provisional type certification announced in June, provides independent verification that the new turbines will operate safely, reliably and according to design specifications.

Full type certification is a “key step” in enabling customers to obtain financing when purchasing the turbines.

Certifying the Haliade-X involved a series of tests on a 12 MW prototype located in Rotterdam, in the Netherlands, plus tests of the turbine’s 107 metre blades at the UK’s Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult centre in Blyth, UK, and the Massachusetts Wind Technology Testing Center in Boston, US.

GE Renewable Energy offshore wind chief technology officer Vincent Schellings said: “This is a key milestone for us as it gives our customers the ability to obtain financing when purchasing the Haliade-X.

“Our continued goal is to provide them the technology they need to drive the global growth of offshore wind as it becomes an ever more affordable and reliable source of renewable energy.”

“At DNV GL we predict that offshore wind will generate almost 9% of electricity globally by 2050.

One GE Haliade-X 12 MW offshore wind turbine can generate up to 67 gigawatt-hours of gross annual energy production, providing enough clean energy to power 16,000 European households.

The Haliade-X has been selected as the preferred wind turbine for the 120 MW Skipjack and 1100 MW Ocean Wind projects in the US.

GE Renewable Energy recently announced that the prototype has been optimised and is now operating at a 13 MW power output.

Testing will continue and the company said it expects to obtain a type certificate for the Haliade-X at 13 MW in the first half of 2021.

The Haliade-X 13MW offshore wind turbine will be used in the first two phases of UK’s Dogger Bank offshore wind farm, with a total of 190 units to be installed starting in 2023.

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