Why Offshore Wind?
Over the last few decades, wind-generated electricity has gone from a pioneering experiment to a practical energy source. Improvements in turbine technology mean that we can generate power under a wide range of wind conditions, and commercial deployment has driven down cost and improved reliability, particularly in Scotland.
But getting more power from the breeze requires more wind and more space.
The advantages of working offshore – especially several miles from shore – are that the wind resource is much greater, and that there is more opportunity for space to install the infrastructure necessary to deliver large amounts of power we need.
Although it has been more than a decade since wind generation moved from land to sea, commercial development has, so far, been restricted to development close to shore, and in relatively shallow waters (generally less than 20m (60 feet)).
However, in 2005, two demonstrator turbines were constructed at the Beatrice oilfield, at the southern end of the Moray Offshore Renewables Site. These demonstrators are the world’s first turbines operating in deeper waters (ca. 45m ( 150 feet)), taking advantage of the jacket technology used for offshore oil platforms. The team responsible for their development and installation included members of the current Moray Offshore Renewables Team.
Moray Offshore Renewables will provide a lead to the world’s renewable energy sector, by moving this technology from a demonstrator project to a commercial scale, capable of meeting a significant proportion of the nation’s energy need.
Map Showing Offshore Energy Development In Scotland
Saving Carbon and Saving Fuel
Scotland produced 36.9 million tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2009; approximately 6 million tonnes came from domestic electricity usage. Global targets set by the Kyoto Protocol oblige the UK to reduce greenhouse gas production by 12.5 per cent on 1990 levels by 2012.
The UK Government has set its own ambitious target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent on 1990 levels by 2050. Renewable power is a major contributor. The Scottish Government has set a target of generating the equivalent of all of Scotland’s annual demand for power by renewables by 2020.
Although our existing hydro gives us a good start, typically accounting for almost 10 per cent of generation each year in Scotland, and onshore wind is making an increasing contribution, a significant increase is required to meet official carbon reduction targets. Commercial-scale deployment of offshore wind generation is currently the only technology with that capability.
On conservative estimates of the wind resource in the Moray Firth, it is expected that the Moray Offshore Renewables project will be able to deliver between 4 million MWhr and 5.2 million MWhr of power each year. This is sufficient to supply the equivalent needs of between 800,000 and one million households.
The power produced by wind generation displaces power which would otherwise be produced by a conventional thermal powerstation; consequently offering the chance to save coal and gas.
To allow comparison between different fuels, the common unit for comparing energy is the ‘tonne of oil equivalent’ (toe). It is estimated that each year the Moray Offshore Wind project could displace as much as 1.2 million toe of coal, or 1 million toe of gas.
Burning less fossil fuels means reducing the amount of carbon dioxide (and other greenhouse gasses) produced. The proposed development would result in carbon dioxide savings between 3.6 and 4.7 million tons per annum when compared to coal fired electricity generation. When compared to gas fired electricity generation, the potential carbon dioxide savings of the proposed development would be in the range of 1.6 to 2.1 million tons of carbon dioxide per annum.
Based on average Scottish domestic electricity consumption of 4,824KWhr in 2010