Thursday, November 29, 2007

Offshore Wind Power in Scotland

Article from WSJ re offshore wind opportunities off the coast of Scotland. Few points:

- considerable intersection between oil and gas interests and this plant. The project is being co-sponsored by a Canadian oil and gas company, the tripod base design was borrowed from oil rigs:

What gives Britain a potential edge in developing large-scale deepwater wind power is the nation's long history of offshore oil and gas. Discovered in the 1960s, the massive oil reservoirs of the North Sea have fueled Britain for more than 30 years and sparked a huge services boom, especially in places like Aberdeen, on Scotland's east coast. The oil there is running out, fast. "A hundred thousand people work in the energy sector here," says Paul O'Brien, head of the Renewable Energy Development team at Scottish Development International. "We're looking at renewables as a way of keeping people employed."


Being an oil and gas company also made it easier for Talisman to get Beatrice up and running. The company fast-tracked the permits needed to install its turbines by using its existing North Sea oil and gas operating license. That's because they'll initially be used to power Talisman's oil platform. Later, the company's rigs will serve as a base to maintain and monitor the wind farm, so Talisman won't have to decommission them -- a task that can cost millions of dollars.
- with costs at about $9/w to install, these would need to drop in half (with subsidies) and by two thirds (without) to be feasible as a larger-scale US energy resource.
So far it has cost $90 million -- or about $9 million per megawatt of installed generating capacity. By comparison, a gas-fired power station costs less than $1.5 million per MW installed to build.
- finally, worth pointing out the potential of Scotland's natural resources. Could be some interesting things happening in Scotland over the next 5-10 years:
[the companies] plan to ramp it up into a spectacular 200-turbine wind farm that would turn North Sea gales into enough electricity for a million people -- a fifth of Scotland's population. Completion is probably at least seven years away.

Scotland has around 25% of Europe's wind-energy resource and some of the continent's best potential wind, wave and tidal sites.


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