Off shore wind farms – an urban energy solution ?

Off shore wind farms

Can off shore wind farms be an urban energy solution ? and what has the Island Samsø and Copenhagen in common ?

The Island Samsø is the first Island in Denmark to be net independent of fossil fuels (on annual basis) – and hundreds of energy experts from all over the world have travelled to Samsø to learn  how did they it and see with own eyes

I will mention 3 important factors :

  • The co-operation between the people to develop efficent and smart solutions, not least district heating and wind farms
  • District heating in uran areas based on the available low carbon sources
  • Off shore wind farms financed by  local people

Thereby the heating in the towns have become CO2 neutral and the electricity production from the wind exceeds the remaining energy consumption for power, heating and traffic. Taking into account that the energy value of electricity is larger than the value of fuels, it is even more than CO2 neutral, however the wind is fluctuating, so the island is still dependant of the power grid.

Copenhagen has a vision to be net independent of fossil fuels in 2025. This vision is mainly based on the same factors.

Copenhagen has already 98 % of all buildings connected to the district heating grid and a large share of the production is already based on waste and biomass CHP. Therefore it will possible to be 100% independent for the heating sector within a few years. Bicycles, public transport and electric cars will also help, however there will still remain a demand for fossil fuels and not least for electricity.  Therefore investments in off shore wind farms in the Baltic Sea near Copenhagen will be an obvious solution. Although Copenhagen is not yet  independent of fossil fuels, the efficient district heating in the region and the bicycles have inspired many visitors in the past 25 years.

Off shore wind farms are in fact one of the most obvious and cost effective CO2 neutral urban energy solution – for two reasons:

  • It is the most cost effective solution for producing electricity based on renewable energy and it would be many times more expensive and even impossible to produce the same amount of electricity with building level wind turbines or solar cells.
  • The district heating and district cooling including storages, CHP plants and large heat pumps will help to integrate the wind energy in the energy system

This is probably the two most important features of the “intelligent power grid”, namely

  • that it can transfer renewable energy from “near by” wind farms to supply buildings  in urban areas and
  • that the district energy system is the most “intelligent electricity consumer”.

2 Replies to “Off shore wind farms – an urban energy solution ?”

  1. Thank you for the comment. But which type of nuclear do you mean?

    It seems to me that to-days nuclear fission energy only will have an intermediate role in our energy system, especially after the latest development in Japan and Germany.

    If you mean nuclear fussion, I agree that it would be a nice sustainable solution for the human population – if we manage to control and use it. However it may never be possible and therfore we have to develop a sustainable renewable energy system without nuclear at all.

    At the moment, wind from off-shore wind farms and from on-shore farms in open remote areas are among the most cost effective and sustainable solutions.

    You are right, the wind fluctuates and therefore we have to develop an energy system, which can integrate the wind. Even nuclear base load from a fantastic nuclear fussion plant which might be invented within the next 100 years will call for intelligent use of the base load energy.

    My point is to give advice to the energy authorities in cities on how to implement renewable energy in the most sustainable way.

    Currently, the best solutions are in my mind
    1) to invest in off shore wind energy, which can be transferred to the cities via the power grid,
    2) to save uncontrolled electricity consumption and
    3) to invest in district heating and cooling with thermal storages, which can utilize the fluctuating wind energy.

    The advice is urgently needed because some decission makers go in the wrong direction and invest in expensive and inefficient solar cells and wind turbines at the building level and use electricity in small building level heat pumps, which can not be adjusted to the fluctuating wind energy. I is simply too expensive and inefficient to produce enegy at the building level in modern cities- whereas it is necessary in remote areas without access to the power grid.

    More people move to cities, but cities have some advantages, some of them are that the residents can co-operate on how to use and produce the energy in the most intelligent and cost effective way.

  2. Anders
    Offshore windfarms are not a feasible urban solution. The myth needs to be dispelled.
    They may be a great solution for a tiny island like samsø, with a population of pensioners, but aren’t for a thriving, growing city.
    Electricty usage in urban environments is subject to massive fluctuations which wind energy simply cannot match.
    Most wind energy is produced during periods when there is no need for it; there is no way in which it can be stored.
    The only solution for clean energy that can sustain the requirements of urbanistaion is nuclear.

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