Offshore wind energy
From the viewpoint of the European Union, renewable energy generation is one of the biggest markets of the future for the next decades. According to EU plans, renewable energies will cover around 20 per cent of the EU’s energy requirements by 2020. Offshore wind energy is one of the main areas of focus for achieving this target. Over the last decade, the wind energy sector in Denmark and Germany recorded the biggest increase in output of all forms of renewable energy.
Offshore wind energy is a very promising means of generating renewable energy – especially for countries with a high population density that are experiencing difficulties in finding suitable sites for power plants on land. The construction costs are higher at sea but this is offset by higher energy production, as offshore wind normally contains 50 per cent more energy than wind at comparable sites on land nearby.
Within Europe, offshore wind parks have been constructed so far in Denmark, Great Britain, Sweden, Ireland, the Netherlands and Germany. Considerable expansion is planned in all these countries in the years to come. Denmark is the country with the longest experience of offshore wind energy use. It erected its first offshore wind farm in the Baltic Sea off the coast of Lolland Island as early as 1991.
The main challenge facing offshore wind energy is to reduce costs for undersea cables and foundations, as they currently make offshore wind energy use an expensive option. Power plants in the megawatt range, cheaper foundations and new findings relating to offshore wind conditions all contribute to improving the economic efficiency of offshore wind energy, but risks to the environment and offshore workers have to be kept to a minimum, too.