Offshore Renewable Energy: Wind Turbines and the Marine Energy Industry

The UK has an abundance of natural resources. Unlike fossil fuels, these resources will never run out, and can be harnessed using modern technology, helping to reduce carbon emissions, and tackle climate change.

Offshore Renewable Energy is found in the form of wind, waves, and tides. The industry sector requires meticulous planning, monitoring, and management, as well as reliable and constant communication. It’s a high-risk environment, with a need for robust systems and services that focus on health and safety.

Offshore wind power (or wind energy) is the use of wind farms constructed to harvest wind energy that can that generate electricity. Higher wind speeds are available offshore compared to on land, so the electricity supplied by the wind generators is higher.

Europe is the world leader in offshore wind power, with the first wind farm, Vindeby, being installed in Denmark in 1991. The UK’s target is to generate 30% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020; aiming to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, and provide greater energy security.

However, the challenge here is to reduce the cost of this technology to make them more ideal on a commercial market. Which is why it’s important to have sites where wave, tidal, and offshore wind devices can be tested in real and accurate conditions.

There could be huge, potential, economic benefits if the UK can maintain its leading position in the marine energy sector. By 2050, the industry could be worth billions, and create thousands of jobs. In South West England, it’s estimated that the marine energy industry could generate almost 6,000 jobs by 2035.

Unlike the typical use of the term “offshore” in the marine industry, offshore wind power also includes inshore water area, such as lakes, and sheltered coastal areas. This is to utilise traditional fixed-bottom wind turbine technology, as well as deeper-water areas which house floating wind turbines.

Fixed foundation offshore wind farms uses turbines with fixed structures underwater, and are installed in relatively shallow waters of a maximum of 60 metres. Almost all offshore wind farms that are currently operating are of the fixed foundation type, with the exception of a few test projects.

The advantage of placing wind turbines offshore is that the wind is significantly stronger off of the coast, and offshore breezes can be quite strong in the afternoon, matching the time when people most use electricity. Offshore turbines can also be located along the coast near large cities, effectively eliminating the need for long-distance transmission lines.

In this rapidly developing sector, as more wind farms are entering operations and maintenance, and new constructions are moving further offshore, there is anemphasis on increasing efficiency, lowering cost, and improving safety.

This shift in the industry has brought about new challenges, and has required new methods to manage them. The SeaRoc Group has provided some of the most advanced solutions available on the market today, which address the specific logistical, and health and safety needs for offshore wind farm construction, operation, and management.