- “challenges And Opportunities In Offshore Wind Energy”
- U.s. Offshore Wind Is Under Sail, But Challenges Remain
- Uk Offshore Wind Projects Expected To Break European Records In 2022
“challenges And Opportunities In Offshore Wind Energy” – Offshore wind farms, like this one off Block Island, R.I., are promising sources of energy, but installing one requires a lot of engineering and scientific research. Credit: Dennis Schroeder / National Renewable Energy Laboratory, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Europe has long embraced offshore wind farms – the first was built off the coast of Denmark in 1991. There will be over 5,400 turbines connected to the grid European waters generate around 25 gigawatts, which is more than 70% of offshore wind power. all over the world today.
“challenges And Opportunities In Offshore Wind Energy”
Offshore wind farms are now gaining traction in the United States, which is currently home to just seven offshore wind turbines and produces 42 megawatts – less than 0.1% of offshore wind power the world Several commercial-scale facilities are being developed in US waters. Earlier this year, the Biden administration released a goal to produce 30 gigawatts of offshore wind energy by 2030, and has since announced its plan to develop up to 7 large offshore wind farms the US.
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That’s an admirable target, but it’s also important: wind is free and often abundant, and the energy it provides can help reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, which are currently being used to generate nearly 60% of the electricity in the United States.
A more sustainable future is clearly in sight as offshore wind farms expand globally and increase capacity. But building and operating offshore wind farms comes with its own challenges, from properly surveying the seabed to building floating foundations in deep water. These challenges are testing scientists and engineers alike, but with the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warning that warming will reach 1.5°C by the early 2030s, momentum is strong. there to succeed.
Currently over 99% of wind farms in the United States are located on land. Wind farms face significant land limitations, the main one being that 40% of US residents live in coastal counties where space is at a premium.
“You have major population centers on the East Coast that are looking to benefit from renewable energy development,” said Darryl François, chief of the engineering and technical review branch for the Bureau of Management’s offshore energy program. Ocean Energy (BOEM).. “For large, commercial, utility-type projects, you need a lot of open acreage” – that’s hard to find near these metropolitan areas.
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Moving wind farms offshore provides a viable solution. It will suddenly be possible to produce power near major population centers, and doing so will reduce transmission-related losses, François said. “You can deliver [energy] where it’s needed.”
Offshore wind farms also benefit from stronger and more stable winds commonly found offshore. “There’s almost always a lot more wind and consistent offshore wind,” said Dan Lizarralde, a geophysicist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) in Massachusetts. That’s partly because there’s nothing — mountains or trees — to block the wind, he said.
And where these wind farms go, they don’t need roads – that’s good because today’s wind turbines can be hundreds of meters in diameter. “Offshore wind turbine components are transported by ships and barges,” said Jocelyn Brown-Saracino, director of offshore wind at the US Department of Energy, “reducing some of the logistical challenges that come with co -wind components based on land, such as narrow roads or tunnels. .”
Offshore relocation can also avoid numerous state, local and other jurisdictional regulations and licensing requirements, François said. “You’re working with one sovereign, which is the federal government.” (Wind farms lease parts of the Outer Continental Shelf, a large area generally defined as starting 3 nautical miles offshore and extending to 200 nautical miles, from BOEM, an agency of the US Department of the Interior.)
U.s. Offshore Wind Is Under Sail, But Challenges Remain
Transporting wind turbine blades can present many challenges, as seen when delivering blades to Muirhall Wind Farm in South Lanarkshire, UK Credit: ShellAsp, CC BY-SA 4.0
All leased sites for offshore wind farms in the United States have so far been located on the Atlantic coast. (Two, the offshore wind project off Virginia’s coast and Rhode Island’s Block Island, have been developed with wind farms and have a total capacity of 42 megawatts – enough to power about 20,000 homes.) It is not surprising that to rent the Atlantic continental shelf with the bathymetry of the area, said Anthony Kirincich, an oceanographer at WHOI. “We have a very shallow, wide shelf.”
The shallow waters of the Atlantic coast (often less than 30 meters deep) make it relatively easy to install foundations that support wind farm turbines. In addition, the wide continental shelf allows more turbines to be installed further offshore, which homeowners appreciate. “They are out of sight, out of mind,” said Cirincich.
Boulders the size of houses and submarine trenches as deep as the Grand Canyon make installing turbines more than just challenging; it is often impossible.
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Apart from the lack of aesthetic appeal, there are geophysical reasons for not having wind farms along the coast. Boulders the size of houses and submarine trenches as deep as the Grand Canyon make installing turbines more than just challenging; it is often impossible.
Large boulders called glacial erratics characterize much of the New England coastline. They are reminders of the last ice age, which ended about 20,000 years ago. These errors can sit on the sea floor or be buried beneath the surface. Their presence can seriously set back a project, Lizarralde said, especially if one is found while anchoring a turbine by sinking large steel pipes 30 meters into the seabed.
Sonar can show exposed boulders on the sea floor, but buried features are harder to see. To identify subterranean glacial faults, researchers often turn to seismic reflection surveys. This method involves passing sound waves through the seabed and recording how they are transmitted and reflected. These measurements allow scientists to determine the presence of geological features, including boulders. Even so, scientists’ ability to see what’s down there is still limited, Lizarralde said. “We know very little about what lies beneath the seabed.”
Developers sometimes look for ways to avoid going into the seabed. Ørsted, an energy company with headquarters in Denmark, recently chose not to bury the transmission cables of several of its offshore wind farms, avoiding standard practice. To protect the seabed from the heavy cables, they deliberately placed rocks under the lines in an attempt to prevent erosion. That practice was a mistake – the rocks ended up scratching the cables, some to the point of failure.
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“As the water depth exceeds 50 meters or so, building a fixed bottom support structure becomes uneconomical or completely uneconomical.”
In addition to keeping an eye out for rocks, developers also need to study the characteristics of the seabed itself, such as its slope and composition, said Sanjay Arwade, a professor of civil engineering. and associate director of the Wind Energy Center at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Most offshore wind turbines are rigidly attached to the seabed via foundations, and their design is driven by local conditions. Common designs include a so-called monopile (one long, hollow pipe sunk to the sea floor), a jacket foundation (a three- or four-legged structure attached to the seabed), and a gravity foundation (a large -large, usually a concrete block, resting on the seabed).
So a careful study is needed to evaluate a site, Arwade said. “Site investigation [to determine the geology and geotechnical characteristics] allows the design engineers to do their work.”
The marine environment also presents many other fundamental challenges. Installing and maintaining offshore wind turbines requires a boat, special equipment, and professional divers. Waves stress turbine foundations, and storms—such as nor’easters and hurricanes—can kick up larger-than-normal waves that slam into structures. And at some point offshore the economic benefit of building a wind farm drops to zero: “As the water depth goes beyond 50 meters or so, building a structure fixed base support becomes uneconomical or completely uneconomical.”
Uk Offshore Wind Projects Expected To Break European Records In 2022
Water depth is one of the main reasons that offshore wind farms are not yet identified on the West Coast: the continental shelf there tends to be much steeper, and the water depth is usually higher than 30 meters near the shore. Researchers and engineers at the University of Maine decided to take on this challenge by developing a new type of wind turbine with a floating base intended for use in deeper waters.
VolturnUS 1:8, designed by a team at the University of Maine, is a prototype offshore wind turbine with a floating foundation. Credit: Jplourde UMaine, CC BY-SA 4.0
“We created the first university-based research team on floating wind technologies,” said team leader Habib Dagher, executive director of the University of Maine’s Center for Advanced Structures and Materials. Maine is home to some of the fastest offshore winds in the United States, but its coastal waters are as deep as those on the West Coast.
The project, launched in 2007, aims to satisfy immediate needs – an alternative to the rising costs of heating oil in the state – as well as alleviate long-term concerns about fossil fuel use. and climate change, said Dagher. “Our concerns about global climate change are very real.”
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VolturnUS 1:8 performed very well during 18 months of use: Even in stormy weather,
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