Offshore wind capacity in Germany passes gigawatt mark

wind farm
The Shepherds Flat Wind Farm is an 845 MW wind farm in the U.S. state of Oregon. Credit: Steve Wilson / Wikipedia.

Germany's offshore wind capacity more than doubled last year as investors warm up to the technology, reported Reuters. The increase was from 915 megawatts (MW) at the end of 2013 to 2.35 gigawatts (GW) at the end of 2014. As such, reported Paul Dvorak in Windpower Engineering and Development, "The German market for offshore wind energy projects broke through the gigawatt barrier in 2014.

By 31 December, 258 in the German North and Baltic Seas with a total capacity of 1,049.2 MW fed into the grid." Reuters said that according to VDMA out of the 2.35 GW, about 1.05 GW were connected to the . There is a need to speed up network connections if Germany's goal is to be met in having 6.5 GW of capacity installed and connected by 2020. Overall, 543 offshore wind turbines have been installed off Germany's coast so far, said Reuters. Cat DiStasio in Inhabitat said the jump was "thanks to the work" of those 543 offshore that established Germany's capacity at 2.35 gigawatts (GW) and that the demonstrated that Germany was "very serious in the pursuit of their goals concerning green energy."

Windpower Engineering & Development referred to remarks by Hermann Albers, president of the German Wind Energy Association BWE, who said the offshore technology was on the edge of a decisive breakthrough, and, more than ever, "a reliable legal framework" was decisive for future development. "Only when investment security is ensured, it will be possible to fully exploit the cost reduction potential, maintain Germany's leading technological position, and harness export success on a growing global market."

DiStasio remarked, "Why capacity and not actual wind power? The infrastructure hasn't caught up. According to VDMA, only about 1.05 gigawatts of the current capacity are connected to the power grid. The rest will be tapped into as soon as network connections are sped up."

Reuters provided some perspective on the potential. On the plus side, offshore parks in contrast to onshore farms face no limit on turbine size. Another edge is that they can take advantage of steady sea winds that allow them to turn about 42 percent of the time, about double the "load factor" onshore. At the same time, "accounting for less than 1 percent of Europe's power consumption, it remains a niche technology for now, hampered by high costs and limited evidence on long-term impact from storms."

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Jan 20, 2015

Why are the economists and managers of European utilities shedding coal and nukes for wind and PV? It is not the feed in tariffs, since oil and gas get subsidized much more than alternative energy.

Jan 20, 2015
That is the average, meaning that half of the time it could be less, sometimes close to 0.

That isn't so.

You're confusing the concepts of average (mean) and median.

Why are the economists and managers of European utilities shedding coal and nukes for wind and PV?

They aren't. More fossil fuel capacity is being built all over europe than renewable.

It is not the feed in tariffs, since oil and gas get subsidized much more than alternative energy.

They aren't. Not per unit of energy.

Jan 20, 2015
When you look at the chart in this article - and see that on-shore wind is now delivering power at 5 cents Kwh - and some farms are cheaper than any form of fossil fuel - you see the future.

It says "The best wind projects around the world" are.

What is important is how much the average wind installation costs - with subsidies. It's hardly relevant if a single wind turbine turns well - they all need to.

a bogus argument against wind

It's a bogus argument in your strawman version of it. The capacity or load factor is intimately tied in with the severity of variation in output, which causes external costs to wind power, which show up as integration issues.

A turbine with a high capacity factor is a steady turbine, requires less adaptation from the rest of the grid and can meet demand better than one with a low factor. The lower the capacity factor, the more expensive it becomes for the rest of the system to make use of it.

42% is decent. 21% is not

Jan 20, 2015
For a lark, I ran my old wind farm simulation to see what difference the local average wind speed has on capacity factor.

6 m/s results in 21% capacity factor.
8.5 m/s results in 42% capacity factor

So getting a higher average is a matter of finding a windier location, but that means going further away from habitation and infrastructure. The problem is, the wind power producers are subsidized and prices guaranteed so they don't have to care about integration issues - so they choose to build in the less windy locations that are more cheaply accessible.

Jan 20, 2015
Take this map for example: http://www.nrel.g...4-11.jpg

There's good wind resources in the US. The problem is, the best resources are where the people aren't, and vice versa, and it's expensive to transmit power over very long distances.

If wind power producers had to take responsibility for the reliability and stability of the energy they produce, aka. the quality of the product they're delivering, they'd have to build their turbines in places with higher steadier winds.

But that would also see an increase in price.

Jan 21, 2015
Next, Eikka will complain about the color of the wind turbines. It is all he has left.

But he can BUY the coal and nuke plants he loves, if he puts together some other folk. The European utilities are unloading them as losers.

Jan 22, 2015
WHY NOT keep tossing somethings into VOLCANOES that would keep flying out with more (acquired) Energy?

Jan 22, 2015
betterexists is going to catch it and give us the energy.

Jan 23, 2015
No it is not - and I have not presented any strawman. The capacity factor of wind turbines is a known issue - and is used over and over - it is a bogus argument.

But you haven't actually addressed the issue of the argument. Simply calling it bogus isn't sufficient to refute it.

Are you aware that costs are coming down

Meanwhile the externalities are going up as larger amounts of intermittent power is pushed into the grid. The grid impromevents, the backup power, and the electricity storage all cost money and all are increasingly mandatory as wind power approaches significant percentages.

You're only looking at the price at the source, but not at the customer.

Jan 23, 2015
Why are you not writing comments against fossil fuels - based on the spread of their costs?

Because other folk are doing a perfectly good job at it. I don't need to address every issue in the world just to point out one.

So - more and more of the new farms will hit the 5 cent or lower mark - which is why there is so much wind being built around the world.

There's so much wind being built because governments are paying money for it.

Even the German government admits that wind power won't survive on the free market without subsidies, because the quality of its output is too low to fetch a proper price. Everybody wants to sell it, but nobody wants to buy it because it's too patchy.

With guaranteed prices and the right of way, all the producers can ignore all the problems and just push power into the grid by the force of law. Matters of supply and demand don't restrict building because the market price is fixed, so the power quality doesn't need to improve

Jan 23, 2015
There are two ways to improve the quality of wind power.

1. Toss out peak output. Installing a smaller generator for the same blade length and curtailing output at a lower wind speed improves capacity factor at the cost of increasing energy price.

2. Build the turbines in windier locations further away from the population, or at sea, which sees higher and steadier winds, but again increases energy cost because maintenance and transmission becomes difficult.

The current push for cheaper wind power comes because larger turbines are cheaper, and they are built in convenient locations where access is cheap, which lowers energy prices at the cost of lower output quality. The cheaper you build, the more profit you make out of the subsidies.

This is possible only for as long as wind power doesn't cost the utilities significantly more to integrate, which is to say, as long as wind power is producing little enough that it doesn't yet matter.

Jan 23, 2015
Which is why states all over the U.S. are finding that integrating wind onto the grid is actually cutting costs.

See the map I provided. Your articles speak of Texas wind power. Notice how northern Texas is in the red and purple, signifying higher average wind speeds? Then compare to California or Florida etc. Doesn't look so good for the rest.

Again, your argument is just picking cherries.

You have to solve the issue of how to get the wind power from the less populous and more windy states to the more populous and less windy states before you can make any universal claims that wind power is the cheapest.

Over 2/3 of the US population lives in the green areas of the map with poor wind resources. For them wind power is not cheap.

Jan 23, 2015
Eikka, wind power is not the only source. We will not just depend on it alone.

When we needed their power from Bonneville in Washington state, we just put up wires. It is called a transmission line, they connect to the grid, and it connects seven Western states, parts of Canada and Mexico.

Eikka keeps on bringing up subsidies. Go here:


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