Offshore Wind: How Europe Plans to Meet Clean Energy Goals

The E.U. is serious about getting clean energy on the grid. The European Parliament has set a 25% target for renewable energy by 2020. About half of that target is projected to come from wind energy. A new report, “Pure Power – Wind Energy Scenarios up to 2030,” put out by the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA), shows that this is a feasible scenario, given current trends in the field. As of 2007, five E.U. countries (Denmark, Spain, Portugal, Ireland and Germany) have more than 5% of their electricity demand supplied by wind energy. If the 2020 goal is met, wind energy could equal 38% of the EU-15’s Kyoto Protocol obligation, avoid 133 mega-tons of C02, and save billions in fuel costs. Future wind production is dependent, however, on continued government/private capital investments in the offshore wind energy market.

As of 2007, there are currently 80 GW of installed wind capacity in the E.U., of which 3.5 GW derives from offshore wind. To meet the 2020 goal, EWEA’s reference scenario assumes 180 GW in 2020 and 300 GW in 2030. “The EU will have 350 GW (including 150 GW offshore) in the high scenario and 200 GW (including 40 GW offshore) in the low scenario,” says the report. Either way, it appears that there is a threshold of about 200 GW of wind power that can be produced on the actual European continent itself.
Offshore wind farms have significant potential in Europe, “where there is limited space on land and relatively large offshore areas with shallow water.” As the video above demonstrates, offshore wind has additional engineering and cost challenges. An EU Action Plan for Offshore Wind Energy, which will detail the feasibility of such projects on a large scale, is expected to be published in the second half of 2008.
As for the potential of offshore wind here in the U.S., a couple of innovative companies, including BluewaterWind, are in the midst of developing projects in the NorthEast. I highly recommend the BluewaterWind site for well-produced informational videos on offshore wind production in the U.S.

Shannon Arvizu, Ph.D., is a clean tech educator and cutting-edge consultant for the auto industry. You can follow her test drives in the cars of the future at

4 responses

  1. Wind is nice, but it will kill a lot of birds, and bats, too many for my liking. Especially offshore wind, which will annihilate offshore birds. I think the EU should rather consider solar voltaic, and cellulosic ethonol, as well as nuclear, and hydrogen production from water using energy from solar voltaic or solar thermal. As soon as the “horses such as Iran, and North Korea” are pacified,or otherwise convinced of thier proper place in the 21st century, nuclear can begin it’s rennaisance in earnest.

  2. This is terrific… I just read about a town that is almost at 100% wind-generated power for 1,300 people (Rockport, Missouri) and now this master plan for Europe. Hopefully with all the real-world successes that wind is now racking up, the winds of change will be irresistible, blowing nuclear energy and coal energy out of the water.

  3. Craig – sorry to add this, as I just noticed your comment. Clean nuclear energy is a bad dream – it overheats the coolant water, affecting fish and other water life, it is non-renewable, expensive, and has a ticking bomb at the end, when the waste products HOPEFULLY can be disposed off into an unknown future with no bad effects, still radioactive many thousands of years from now.
    Current windmills kill far fewer birds than originally smaller, faster moving designs. Killing a handful of birds through direct impact will be better than wiping out the biosphere through overheating and toxic wastes!

  4.  wind energy which is produced by windmills which as we all know has been around for quite some time. Although most don’t realize it, the use of wind turbines or windmills can generate a lot of electricity. This is one of the best sources of renewable energy and will be put into affect more and more as the energy crisis increases.

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