Britain’s offshore wind achievement and wave power potential

pilita clark

In March the FT’s environmental correspondent Pilita Clark [above] reported that, on Sunday 17th of August 2014, 22% of the UK’s electricity supply was generated by wind – a ‘record high’.

Though in other EU countries such as Germany, Spain and Denmark, the record is approximately double, the UK is said to have had more power from offshore wind than the rest of the world combined since 2011 and has led the European industry for eight years. Ms Clark gives noteworthy statistics:

  • one large turbine has been planted on the UK seabed every 40 hours for the past five years on average, supporting about 7,000 full-time jobs;
  • hundreds more are promised as Germany’s Siemens and Denmark’s Vestas expand their turbine-making operations, in Hull and the Isle of Wight respectively;
  • the UK now has 1,300 turbines in 24 wind farms, including London Array, the world’s biggest offshore wind project, in the outer Thames Estuary
  • and all these together generate enough energy to power more than 2m homes.

eis header

The Engineering Integrity Society is organising its 4th conference on Durability and Fatigue Advances in Wind, Wave and Tidal Energy: September 2015, hosted by the Institute for Energy Systems, School of Engineering, University of Edinburgh.

As secured funding for the 6MW first phase of the world’s largest commercial tidal energy production in the north of Scotland has been announced, EIS emphasises that these new challenges require enhanced design for integrity and reliability that is based on established and new practices.

The 4th EIS WWT conference aims to provide a platform for the discussion of current technological developments in this area. There is an impressive list of event speakers, drawn from companies in this sector, as well as from experienced professionals and academic researchers working with emerging technologies in theoretical assessment of renewable structures.

This event is open to the public: Full brochure and Registration Form

wave hub test site

Five months ago the Guardian reported on the marine energy sector, which employs more than 1,600 people. Wave companies such as Seatricity at Wave Hub in Cornwall and Aquamarine at EMEC are generating electricity. One long-term investor Fortum, a Finnish firm, has a leasing agreement with Wave Hub in Cornwall and invests in Wello, a Finnish wave developer.

Wave Hub is the world’s largest and most technologically advanced grid connected site for the testing and development of offshore renewable energy technology, where wave energy technologies & tidal and offshore wind developers from around the world test in open sea conditions. If the reader goes to its site, s/he can see a videoed graphic – though BIS and EU funding would have been spent to better effect by using an informative voice-over, rather than vaguely inspirational music.

As an island with a wind-swept coast, though much smaller than Australia, should we further develop our coastal energy potential? As Carnegie Wave Energy’s chief executive, Michael Ottaviano, told ABC News “theoretically, the resources that hit our coastline every day could power the state 10 times over”.

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