A annual electricity generation of 3000 TWh is equivalent of 342 GW continuous average power.
Global data resource with more than 1,000 offshore locations that could be used for building wind farms. The data set is ordered after average wind speed. Every location links to information about the status of the wind farm, if any.
Spoiler: best location is Taiwan Strait.
[4coffshore.com] – Global Offshore Wind Speeds Rankings
Gemini, that’s the two tiny trapezoids at the top of the map, measuring together merely 68 km2. In the Dutch part of the North Sea there is enough space for many, many Gemini’s more, in theory 57,000/68=838 more or 503 GW nameplate power, that could not only easily provide the Dutch electricity needs for 100% (Dutch average electricity consumption is 12.7 GW), but additionally could turn the Netherlands in a significant electricity exporter to the rest of the EU. Average EU electricity consumption 342 GW. Note that the Dutch part is only 25% of the 200,000 km2 North Sea that cold be utilized for fixed (monopile-based) wind turbines, amounting to, in theory, 2,000 GW nameplate wind power. If you divide that number by two to account for variability and maintenance, you arrive at 1,000 GW, which is still three times the EU current electricity consumption. Note that there is also the Irish Sea and Baltic with plenty of opportunity.
Live data from the with 600 MW (currently) 2nd largest offshore wind farm in the world: Gemini in the Dutch part of the North Sea.
|Wind farm name||Power in MW||Location||Turbines||Commission Date|
|London Array||630||United Kingdom||175 × Siemens SWT-3.6-120||2012|
|Gemini Wind Farm||600||Netherlands||150 × Siemens SWT-4.0||2017|
|Gwynt y Môr||576||United Kingdom||160 × Siemens SWT-3.6-107||2015|
|Greater Gabbard||504||United Kingdom||140 × Siemens SWT-3.6-107||2012|
|Anholt||400||Denmark||111 × Siemens SWT-3.6-120||2013|
|BARD Offshore 1||400||Germany||80 × BARD 5.0MW||2013|
|Global Tech I||400||Germany||80 × Areva Multibrid M5000 5.0MW||2015|
|West of Duddon Sands||389||United Kingdom||108 × Siemens SWT-3.6-120||2014|
|Walney (phases 1&2)||367||United Kingdom||102 × Siemens SWT-3.6-107||2011 (phase 1) 2012 (phase 2)|
|Thorntonbank (phases 1–3)||325||Belgium||6 × Senvion 5MW, 48 × Senvion||6.15MW 2009 (phase 1) 2012 (phase 2) 2013 (phase 3)|
For an up-to-date top-25 list with additional data, like location and detailed Wikipedia wind farm description as well as a list of sites under construction, c.q. planned, go to:
[wikipedia.org] – List of offshore wind farms
[4coffshore.com] – This database gives an overview of all offshore wind park projects, ranging from planned to commissioned. You can see with a glance of an eye that more than 90% of all offshore wind activity takes place in the North Sea area.
How big is the electricity generation potential of the North Sea?
On page 25 it is claimed, quoting from the Czisch book pictured below, that the North Sea area with a depth less than 45 meter encompasses 200,000 km2. In theory the potential for electricity generation is 1600 GW or three times the EU consumption. But there are other European waters, adding 400,000 km2 more. Even if rigorous restrictions are applied it is obvious that huge amounts of electricity can be generated from offshore.
Gregor Czisch – Scenarios for a Future Electricity Supply: CostOptimised Variations on Supplying Europe and its Neighbours with Electricity from Renewable Energies
[de.wikipedia.org] – Gregor Czisch
[germaninnovation.org] – Interview Gregor Czisch, Talking about the Super Grid
For the global renewable energy transition to work, hundreds of thousands of steel wind towers, monopiles and nacelle’s need to be built. The good news is, the iron is there and currently relatively cheap.
Weight of a large offshore wind turbine:
Rule of thumb 5 MW offshore wind turbine steel requirements: 300 + 2200 + 400 = 2900 ton
One million 5 MW offshore wind turbines require 2.9 billion ton or 88% annual global steel production.
Total world electricity consumption was 19,504 TWh in 2013. [source]
Annual electricity production 5 MW offshore ind turbine: 15 million kWh or 15 GWh
In other words: with 1.3 million offshore 5 MW wind turbines you have your global 2013 electricity consumption covered, if you ignore for a moment aspects like storage. And this time entirely fossil free, which was the purpose of the operation. But this ‘back-of-an-envelope’ exercise should give you an idea of the scale of the challenge.
Offshore wind turbine monopile production from steel plate.
In a not too distant past the “hydrogen economy” was thought to be the follow up of the fossil fuel economy. The idea was to use hydrogen as the central storage medium.
|Fuel||Energy density [kWh/kg]|
[wikipedia.org] – Hydrogen economy
Enthusiasm for that concept has come down considerably since, mostly because of fundamentally low conversion efficiency (50-80%) and storage problems. But that doesn’t mean that hydrogen couldn’t play a role in a renewable energy future. This IEA article makes the case that renewable hydrogen production for NH3 (Ammonia), to be used as fertilizer in agriculture, could become viable in the near future, circumventing at least the hydrogen storage problem (boiling point −252.879 °C (−423.182 °F, 20.271 K)), by converting it immediately into Ammonia (boiling point −33.34 °C (−28.01 °F; 239.81 K)).
Indeed, producing hydrogen via renewable energy is not a new idea. Until the 1960s, hydrogen from hydropower-based electrolysis in Norway was used to make ammonia – a key ingredient for agricultural fertilizers. But with increasingly lower renewable costs, renewables-based hydrogen production could once again be competitive with SMR (steam methane reforming)…
But under the right conditions, producing industrial hydrogen in this fashion could have massive consequences for the sustainability of one industry in particular – agriculture. About half of industrial hydrogen is used in ammonia production. Ammonia production alone is responsible for about 360 million tonnes of CO2 emissions each year, or about 1% of the world’s total emissions. By 2050, we expect that the consumption of ammonia will increase by around 60%.
IEA article addresses the issue of renewable energy variability and how to deal with it and identifies four phases, hand in hand with the level of renewable energy penetration in a society.
[iea.org] – Getting wind and sun onto the grid
International Energy Agency, October last year:
The International Energy Agency said today that it was significantly increasing its five-year growth forecast for renewables thanks to strong policy support in key countries and sharp cost reductions. Renewables have surpassed coal last year to become the largest source of installed power capacity in the world.
The latest edition of the IEA’s Medium-Term Renewable Market Report now sees renewables growing 13% more between 2015 and 2021 than it did in last year’s forecast, due mostly to stronger policy backing in the United States, China, India and Mexico. Over the forecast period, costs are expected to drop by a quarter in solar PV and 15 percent for onshore wind.
Last year marked a turning point for renewables. Led by wind and solar, renewables represented more than half the new power capacity around the world, reaching a record 153 Gigawatt (GW), 15% more than the previous year. Most of these gains were driven by record-level wind additions of 66 GW and solar PV additions of 49 GW…
Over the next five years, renewables will remain the fastest-growing source of electricity generation, with their share growing to 28% in 2021 from 23% in 2015.
[iea.org] – IEA raises 5-year renewable forecast as 2015 marks record year
New monthly record in renewable electricity production in Germany: 41% or 19.5 TWh, where the nuclear power share fell to its lowest level since 1970. Additionally a new peak power record was broken on March 18 of 38.5 GW, topping the old one of 38 GW (Feb 22).
[energytransition.org] – March was a record month for renewable power in Germany