Truly Green Wind Farms

Wind farms are not for the local area; they are producing for the National Grid. They are part of the National Infrastructure and need therefore to be considered in a national context.

The National Plan to meet net-zero 2050 shows a preliminary allocation of offshore wind farms around the country (see Fig 1 below). This shows that in addition to the 73.5GW of capacity required to meet net-zero 2050 there is plenty of extra space in the North Sea for more wind farm capacity. Space for a total of over 175GW extra. In other words, 145 Rampion 2 wind farms could fit into that area.

Figure 1: preliminary allocation of offshore wind farms for net-zero 2050

The government has announced, in the Energy White Paper, an Offshore Transmission Network Review [7] and the National Grid is proposing an integrated Offshore Electricity Grid Network [9] for the North Sea wind farms – which would save £6B for consumers by 2050, increase wind power availability and reliability (being more robust than current radial links), and significantly reduce the need for damaging onshore/offshore cable links with fewer onshore substations and less construction needed.

This National Grid study shows that this plan will only work by concentrating offshore capacity within the North Sea zones where multi-purpose interconnectors are planned with Belgium and the Netherlands [10]. The White Paper explains how these interconnectors will allow us to sell excess green power in other markets, or, when our wind output is low, import electricity through cross-border trade.

The proposed Rampion 2 runs contrary to this; it could not benefit from these economies of scale and would have a much higher environmental impact.

A truly Green wind farm

A new wind farm of equivalent 1.2GW capacity in the North Sea would be truly green

The National Grid has confirmed that, if coordinated as part of the Offshore Transmission Network, this capacity could be far offshore with no visible impact on the coast and no need for an additional onshore cable link. The result would be lower connection costs, more benefit to consumers, no dredging of the sea bed to install the offshore cable, no extra onshore harm.

This region of Dogger Bank has the additional benefit that the winds are stronger and more constant than close inshore in the Sussex bay. Data from the National Grid shows that the Hornsea 1B wind farm in Dogger Bank, for example, has a load factor of 56% whereas the current Rampion wind farm’s load factor is only 35%. This means that a wind farm in Dogger Bank would generate about 60% more energy than one of the same capacity in the Sussex bay. This is important for two reasons: 1) the electricity from Dogger Bank would be significantly cheaper (about 2/3 of the cost) and 2) the CO2 impact would be lower. The manufacture and installation of wind farms creates significant CO2 emissions – but this is balanced by the renewable energy generated making them net negative in emissions once they have been operating for some time. Having 60% more energy output makes wind farms in Dogger Bank reach net zero much more quickly a much greener alternative.

These Green wind farms would respond properly to the climate emergency, be supported by the Government investment plan [11] focusing on building Offshore wind infrastructure on the North Sea Coast and would match the PM’s objective that new wind farms should be “Far out in the deepest waters” [12]. Floating wind turbines are now being developed to allow wind farms to be located in the areas of highest wind power density. These would be probably be the greenest wind farms we can create and should be welcomed.