Proposals to combine renewable energy streams on purpose built islands are becoming more and more common place.
Just last week, a new plan was revealed for an integrated energy scheme in the North Sea which would combine 200 floating wind turbines and hydrogen production.
The £10bn project – proposed by floating offshore wind company Cerulean Winds – would have the capacity to abate 20M.t of CO2 through simultaneous North Sea projects west of Shetland and in the central North Sea.
These energy islands can create better connections between energy generated from offshore wind and energy systems in nearby regions. So amid the drive to net zero, are they the future of the industry?
According to Energy Networks Association head of gas Matt Hindle, to reach net zero “an integrated approach to decarbonising the energy system” is needed.
He added: “Combining renewable generation with green hydrogen production makes the most of the UK’s natural resources and energy infrastructure, and will help to tackle the hardest parts of the challenge, such as heat, industry and heavy transport.”
Energy UK policy manager India Redrup also emphasised that, given the “urgency” of decarbonisation, different avenues should be explored.
“In order to reach our net zero target in as timely manner as possible and keep the cost to consumers at a minimum, there are several ways of gaining efficiencies within projects such as maximising grid connections, co-locating technologies and generally utilising integrated networks and systems,” she said.
“Given the urgency of the decarbonisation task at hand, all potential cost-effective avenues for bringing forward existing and emerging technologies vital for a net-zero economy should be given serious consideration by decision-makers, who should also be looking at their processes to ensure that they are still fit for purpose and productive in the context of our ambitious climate goals.”
Meanwhile, Energy & Climate Intelligence Unit head of analysis Jonathan Marshall believes the schemes are “definitely a good idea”.
“You can share assets between different grids so it’s like a more advanced way of having an interconnector,” he said. “So they’re definitely of use. They’re not going to dramatically change the sector as a whole but they’re definitely useful.”
The Cerulean Winds development would include over 200 floating turbines split across the west of Shetland and central North Sea sites, with excess power used for the production of hydrogen.
The turbines have 3Gw per hour of capacity, feeding power to the offshore facilities and excess 1.5Gw per hour power to onshore green hydrogen plants. This would enable the development of green hydrogen at scale and £1bn hydrogen export potential.
A formal request for seabed leases has been submitted to Marine Scotland.
In February, the Danish Government agreed to fund a £25bn artificial energy island in the North Sea. The government will take a majority share in the scheme, with private investors making up the remaining 49% stake.
The scheme involves developing artificial platforms 80km off the coast of Denmark which would connect to offshore wind turbines.
The island will initially have an area of 120,000m2 and in its first phase will be able to provide 3M households with green energy. It will be protected from North Sea storms on three sides by a high sea wall, with a dock for service vessels taking up the fourth side.
Electricity will also be supplied for neighbouring countries’ electricity grids, with the UK, Germany or the Netherlands potentially benefitting. Green hydrogen will be provided for use in shipping, aviation, industry and heavy transport.
Dragon Energy Island, mooted as a replacement for the scrapped Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon project, won the support of an international consortium of businesses in November last year.
The plan for the floating island was drawn up by the Swansea Bay City Region and combines a lagoon seawall with tidal stream turbines, with space for 10,000 modular homes, underwater data centres and a solar energy farm.
The members of the consortium, brought together by the welsh innovation group DST, and a full schedule of planning applications and proposals will be revealed in early 2021.
The Swansea Bay City Region claims its Dragon Energy Island proposal is 30% cheaper than the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon, with an estimated cost of just under £1bn. The costs do not include the housing or underwater data centres, which could be privately funded.
Department of Civil Engineering https://www.ibu.edu.ba/department-of-civil-engineering/