Offshore wind power: one way to tackle the energy transition

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The French Energy Transition for Green Growth Act, enacted on 17 August 2015, aims to increase the share of renewable energy in electricity generation to 40% by 2030, compared to 19% in 2016, and one way of meeting this ambitious target is to develop offshore wind power and floating wind turbines in particular.

According to a study by two researchers from the Carnegie Institution, Anna Possner and Ken Caldeira, if offshore wind power turbines were installed over an area the size of India (i.e. 3 287 000 km2) in the North Atlantic, this vast field could supply all the energy consumed by the world’s population.

Europe and its Atlantic coast are particularly exposed to winds. By making use of floating wind turbines, we could exploit the entire surface of the Exclusive Economic Zone (especially in deep waters), the protected area that extends seaward 370 km out from the European coast. The protected zone of Europe’s Atlantic coast covers a total surface area of 3 150 000 km2, and that of France 539 000 km2.

France lags behind its European partners when it comes to fixed offshore wind turbines, but it intends to lead the field for floating offshore wind power sources. It has embarked on opportunity studies in several areas.

According to estimates, the project for a wind farm off the coast of Fécamp in Normandy would produce 498 MW of energy from 83 floating wind turbines, supplying electricity to around 770 000 people, more or less the equivalent to a city such as Marseilles. The country thus has a rapidly deployable potential of 6 000 MW from floating wind turbines, roughly equivalent to the output from six nuclear reactors.

New, practical alternative energy generation solutions are thus emerging thanks to leaps in technology that have only taken shape very recently. Does this mean that the challenge of climate change, an extraordinary feat for humankind, can actually be overcome?

Written on 10/11/2017

Alexandre Jeanblanc

Investment Specialist, SRI

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