From NOT A LOT OF PEOPLE KNOW THAT
By Paul Homewood
h/t Ian Magness
Sky News faithfully regurgitate the glowing press release from the developers. (Apparently this is now called “journalism”!)
Backing has been given to the first floating wind farm off the Welsh coastline.
The Welsh government has given consent for the project, which will be located 40km off the Pembrokeshire coast in West Wales, to proceed.
Kincardine offshore wind farm off the coast of Scotland. Pic: Blue Gem Wind
Project Erebus is expected to provide enough low carbon energy to power 93,000 homes.
It will include seven 14-megawatt turbines, and is part of the first phase of a renewable energy development in the Celtic Sea which is set to generate four gigawatts of energy – enough to power four million homes and businesses.
The current expectation is that Blue Gem Wind, a joint venture between TotalEnergies and Simply Blue Group, will begin operating the Erebus project in 2026 – but it now hopes to secure UK government funding.
Mark Drakeford, Wales’ First Minister, said: “The Erebus project has the potential to show the world that Wales and the Celtic Sea can deliver renewable energy alongside the sustainable management of our marine resources.
“In determining the marine license and the planning consents, the Welsh government and our partners in Natural Resources Wales have enabled this project to move forward to apply for subsidy support from the UK government.
“I urge the UK government to do its part through the Contracts for Difference process to drive the industry forward by working with the Erebus team to secure the first floating offshore wind project in Welsh waters, bringing jobs and green energy to our communities.”
There is nothing revolutionary about floating wind farms; they are simply wind turbines placed on top of a rig. The logic is that they can be sited in deeper water further from shore, where in theory wind speeds are higher.
The claim that this one will power 93,000 homes is the usual legerdemain, as it ignores non-domestic consumption which accounts for two thirds of the total electricity used. When these are all taken into account, the real figure is just 35,000 homes.
And, as ever, it all boils down to cost. Hywind off the Scottish coast is the only commercial floating wind farm in the UK at the moment. Built in 2017, it is slightly smaller than Erebus, and receives about £190/MWh in ROC subsidies. It seems likely that Erebus will need a similar level of subsidy.
The project is estimated to cost $478 million, about £400 million, equivalent to £11,000 for each of those lucky 35,000 homes! The capital cost works out at £2805/KW, compared to £1630/KW for the new Hornsea wind farm being planned. In other words, Erebus looks like being highly uncompetitive, and will rely on big subsidies.
As with Hywind, the claim is that costs will fall rapidly once the technology is established. But that has not happened in the years since Hywind became operational, and developers are not queuing up to build more of them.
As with the Swansea tidal lagoon, the Welsh government would love to see the project go ahead, just as long as somebody else pays the cost!
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