Hi, my name is Henna and I am a researcher at Durham University. I am passionate about renewable energy, offshore wind, and engaging with others about these topics. I hope you enjoy the blog.
What are onshore and offshore wind?
These days we have the option to use electricity for many things: boiling the kettle, cooking food, charging our phones, and perhaps even our cars. To address climate change, and in this sense, be greener, the government aims to decarbonise electricity generation. One way to decarbonise the electricity we use is to generate electricity through wind power. Wind energy uses wind turbines to convert the kinetic energy of the wind (which turns the blades of a turbine) into electrical energy.
You may have seen wind turbines in the fields around Durham. These onshore turbines are each around 100 metres tall and are typically rated around 2 megawatts (abbreviated to MW) . This means that if the turbine could be used to its full potential (in other words, the turbine wasn’t broken and the wind speed was good), then in one hour, it would produce 2 megawatt-hours (MWh) of energy; that’s enough to supply an average home in the UK for more than six months . Wind turbines are also installed out at sea. These offshore wind turbines can be installed in potentially windier and more expansive sites. Consequently, larger wind turbines have been installed. The potential for a more considerable amount of wind energy helps support the decarbonisation of electricity.
Offshore wind is growing
As I have alluded to, offshore wind is growing, not only in the North East and the UK but also globally. In the UK, 1,760 MW of offshore wind was installed in 2019, resulting in almost a total of 10,000 MW of offshore wind installed (as of 2019) . In 2020, 21.56 % of electricity was generated from wind energy, up 4.48 % from the year before . Not only are more turbines being installed offshore, but the size of a turbine is also increasing. For example, 7 MW turbines have been installed at Hornsea One (an offshore wind farm located off the Yorkshire coast) . Thinking back to the onshore turbines, that’s three and half times the size. I think that this increasing trend is set to continue.
Why is wind energy and an energy mix important?
So far, I think this sounds positive; wind energy provides a way to generate electricity in a low carbon way, and many turbines have been installed in Durham and beyond. However, we should note that we need options for those days when the wind does not blow at the current wind farm sites, which stresses the importance of an energy mix. I believe that we need a combination of ways to generate energy (I’m thinking solar and biomass), interconnection with Europe, battery technology, and novel solutions that may yet to be developed to ensure we have a good supply of energy. I’m looking forward to future innovations in this space.
Offshore wind in the region
In Durham, there are many onshore wind farms: Broom Hill wind farm (8 MW), Trimdon Grange wind farm (5.2 MW) and Walkway wind farm (14 MW), to name a few . In terms of offshore wind farms, in the North East, we have smaller (compared to more recent projects like Hornsea One, which has a capacity of 1200 MW) operational offshore wind farms at Teeside (62 MW) and Blyth (41.5 MW) . The future is looking positive, and there are plans for Dogger Bank C offshore wind that will connect an installed generation capacity of up to 1,200 MW to Teeside .
Expertise in the area
Durham and the North East of England has a wealth of expertise and knowledge in offshore wind, including businesses, research organisations and universities. Personally, I really do believe that it is an exciting time for offshore wind energy in the North East. Hopefully, the continued growth of the sector will support jobs in the short- and long-term future.
Thanks for reading ‘Five notes on an introduction to wind energy’. Please do get in touch with any comments, and if there is demand, look out for further blogs that explore deeper into wind energy.
Note: All views expressed in this text are the author’s own. Additionally, the author has written this text to the best of their knowledge. If you do find any errors, please do get in touch.
-  MyGridGB: https://www.mygridgb.co.uk
-  Hornsea One: https://hornseaprojectone.co.uk
-  EDF Renewables: https://www.edf-re.uk/our-sites
-  Dogger Bank: https://doggerbank.com
-  Offshore Wind in Europe Key trends and statistics 2019, Wind Europe, October 2020: https://windeurope.org/about-wind/statistics/offshore/european-offshore-wind-industry-key-trends-statistics-2019/
-  Energy Consumption in the UK (ECUK) 1970 to 2019, Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, October 2020: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/928350/2020_Energy_Consumption_in_the_UK__ECUK_.pdf