Europe is still bullish on offshore wind power, and the North Sea is the focal point of the region’s push to integrate more renewables into its electricity grid.
The latest such project is the Gemini Wind Park, located about 53 miles off the northern shore of the Netherlands. Named after the astrological sign Gemini, this North Sea wind farm is actually a pair of offshore facilities, each containing 75 wind turbines. Each turbine soars over 500 feet tall and generates 4 megawatts of power. In total, the wind farm’s 150 turbines, spread across over 25 square miles, will provide 600 MW of clean energy, enough to provide 785,000 households, or 1.5 million Dutch citizens, with a secure source of electricity.
This project should help the Netherlands inch toward its goal of sourcing 14 percent of its power from renewables, a metric critics say the Dutch government is struggling to achieve. Despite the country’s reputation for leading on sustainable development, it still sources 95 percent of its energy from fossil fuels.
On one hand, its distance from the Dutch shoreline keeps it well out of seaside residents’ view, nixing a criticism often hurled at offshore wind projects. And the wind speeds in this region of the North Sea are consistently high, averaging approximately 22 miles per hour, answering questions of consistency.
The electricity generated at these turbines is transmitted to two offshore substations before being transferred 68 miles to the coastal town of Eemshaven.
Gemini’s backers, which include the Canadian renewables company Northland Power, the German manufacturer Siemens and Dutch contractor Van Oord, say the wind farm will reduce the Netherlands’ carbon emissions by 1.25 million metric tons annually. The ongoing maintenance of the wind farm will also provide an economic benefit of between 75 and 100 jobs. At its peak construction phase last year, the project employed 500 people, according to its CEO.
Now operational, Gemini is the second largest offshore wind farm in the North Sea, coming just behind the 630 MW London Array, an installation in the Thames River estuary that was completed in 2013 by Dong Energy, E.ON and Masdar. Another wind farm located off the British shore, Greater Gabbard, ranks as the third largest in the region, generating 504 MW of clean power.
Image credit: Gemini Wind Park