Energy Production Priorities In The Era Of Climate Change – Analysis
Wind power is a major part of the current energy picture. Its generation — whether on land or at sea — is growing in scope, and necessity, around the world. It is a good news story and one that offers some hope in the battle to ease the effects of climate change in the decades ahead.
The history of wind power is extensive and includes research into the comparative challenges and benefits of onshore and offshore generation. It is the largest and fastest growing source of renewable power globally, generating nearly 8 percent of all energy last year. When combined with solar power, this figure increases to 12 percent.
Wind power projects now dot the globe. In studies, researchers have found offshore wind farms to be an effective option for achieving a low-carbon energy transition. Consequently, efforts to address the challenges associated with the implementation of offshore wind farms are important.
Authorities in European countries are already taking action. Last week, nine nations pledged to expand the capacity of their offshore wind farms in the North Sea by a factor of eight — compared with current levels — by 2050.
Wind power generation is already increasing; last year it supplied nearly a fifth of all electricity used in the EU area, according to Energy think tank Ember.
European nations want to develop more wind farms, and other green-energy projects, on land and at sea. For example, the Netherlands and the UK have announced plans for Europe’s biggest cross-border electricity connection to an offshore wind farm, and the EU and Norway have agreed to develop infrastructure to capture and store carbon dioxide from depleted North Sea gas fields.
The UK already has 45 offshore wind farms, producing 14 gigawatts of power, with plans to expand capacity to 50 gigawatts by 2030. Germany has 30 wind farms producing 8 gigawatts, while the Netherlands generates 2.8 gigawatts, and Denmark and Belgium 2.3 gigawatts each. These European numbers are impressive and illustrate the potential results of effective policies.
Elsewhere, sea-based wind farms connected to land-based food production in the Baltics are being expanded. The 62.7 megawatt Jurbarkas II wind farm will be built near the town of the same name in Lithuania, off the coast of an agricultural region in the southwest of the country, and should be operational by 2024. Other countries around the Baltic Sea are also expanding their wind power networks, while remaining mindful of the security requirements for protecting such infrastructure from state and non-state threats.
In East Asia, wind power is taking off in leaps and bounds as Asia-Pacific states race to harness its inexhaustible potential. Wind farms are popping up on land and — more crucially — offshore, providing energy to millions of households. These Asian states are a bigger market for wind power, given the geographical area, compared with Europe, and so Japan, South Korea and Taiwan are looking to boost offshore generation.
China is also a major driver of wind power projects. It boasts the largest offshore wind turbine, which stands more than 250 meters tall. In fact, Chinese turbines are the largest in the industry, with 128 meter-long blades that can sweep an area equivalent to the size of about seven football pitches.
Interestingly, Chinese authorities are looking at a hybrid wind and hydrogen power generation system that can effectively reduce potential power loss caused by lack of wind, and further improve the ability of the energy system to accommodate renewable energy.
But there are issues with existing offshore wind power generation models. One problem lies within the supply chain: Giant offshore wind farms are complicated to install and maintain. They require very specialized and expensive ships for maintenance, as part of a complex layer of operational support. High demand for repair ships can therefore hamper maintenance and reduce capacity.
A recent study of stakeholders in the wind energy sector in Europe found that this type of green energy does still cause pollution. There are also six issues that are emerging as points of contention or as concerns about the environmental impact of wind power: Nature preservation; distributional injustice; property and convenience; proportions; health concerns; and landscape values and functions.
Significantly, therefore, as new modes of energy generation are increasingly introduced, the pollution they create, and any other contentious issues, have to be assessed, managed and resolved.
Overall, wind power generation in both the West and East must be scaled up by a factor of four this decade to help meet the target of restricting the global average temperature rise to less than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
Wind power must account for more than 20 percent of global electricity production by 2030 if net-zero emissions goals are to be achieved. Wind generation equipment is required now to increase its production rate to meet the growing demand for larger and better blades using high technology solutions to capture nature’s breath.