World's First Floating Wind Farm Will Power 20,000 Homes
The 30 megawatt wind farm, operated by Norwegian oil company Statoil ASA and Masdar Abu Dhabi Future Energy Co., consists of five turbines and is located 25 kilometers offshore Peterhead in Aberdeenshire.
"This marks an exciting development for renewable energy in Scotland," the First Minister continued. "Our support for floating offshore wind is testament to this government's commitment to the development of this technology and, coupled with Statoil's Battery Storage Project, Batwind, puts us at the forefront of this global race and positions Scotland as a world center for energy innovation."
Batwind, a Lithium battery that can store one megawatt-hour of power, is linked to the Hywind to help mitigate intermittency and optimize output.
As Bloomberg noted, typical offshore wind farms are installed on seabeds in relatively shallow seas. The advantage of a floating system allows countries like Japan, the U.S. West Coast and Mediterranean—where seabeds drop steeply off the coast—to also utilize the technology.
"Hywind can be used for water depths up to 800 meters, thus opening up areas that so far have been inaccessible for offshore wind," explained Irene Rummelhoff, executive vice president of the New Energy Solutions business area at Statoil.
The project cost about 200 million pounds ($263 million) to construct.
The cost of onshore and offshore wind has seen significant reductions in recent years, with the UK's latest renewable energy auction dropping to 57.50 pounds ($76) per megawatt-hour, Bloomberg noted.
Floating wind is expected to follow a similar downward trajectory over the next decade, making it cost competitive with other renewable energy sources, Statoil said.
"Statoil has an ambition to reduce the costs of energy from the Hywind floating wind farm to €40-60/MWh ($47-76) by 2030. Knowing that up to 80 percent of the offshore wind resources are in deep waters (+60 meters) where traditional bottom fixed installations are not suitable, floating offshore wind is expected to play a significant role in the growth of offshore wind going forward," Rummelhoff said.
Scotland has emerged as a clean energy all-star, with its wind turbines occasionally generating more electricity than is actually needed. This past March 17 and 19, wind turbines provided an output equivalent of 102 percent and 130 percent of each day's demand, respectively.
Last month, Scottish wind turbines provided 846,942 megawatt hours of electricity to the National Grid, enough to supply the power needs of 2.25 million, or 93 percent of Scottish households, according to WWF Scotland. That's 33 percent more homes than the same time last year, when wind energy provided 629,603 MWh, the environmental group noted.
#Scotland wind power has record-breaking month—enough power to supply 93% of Scottish households… https://t.co/I8pKxgGvgS— IRENA (@IRENA)1505658121.0
The Scottish government is actively working towards a low-carbon future, and announced earlier this month that fracking is set to be permanently banned following "overwhelming" public support for outlawing the controversial process.
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The speed and scale of the response to COVID-19 by governments, businesses and individuals seems to provide hope that we can react to the climate change crisis in a similarly decisive manner - but history tells us that humans do not react to slow-moving and distant threats.
A Game of Jenga<p>Think of it as a game of Jenga and the planet's climate system as the tower. For generations, we have been slowly removing blocks. But at some point, we will remove a pivotal block, such as the collapse of one of the major global ocean circulation systems, for example the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), that will cause all or part of the global climate system to fall into a planetary emergency.</p><p>But worse still, it could cause runaway damage: Where the tipping points form a domino-like cascade, where breaching one triggers breaches of others, creating an unstoppable shift to a radically and swiftly changing climate.</p><p>One of the most concerning tipping points is mass methane release. Methane can be found in deep freeze storage within permafrost and at the bottom of the deepest oceans in the form of methane hydrates. But rising sea and air temperatures are beginning to thaw these stores of methane.</p><p>This would release a powerful greenhouse gas into the atmosphere, 30-times more potent than carbon dioxide as a global warming agent. This would drastically increase temperatures and rush us towards the breach of other tipping points.</p><p>This could include the acceleration of ice thaw on all three of the globe's large, land-based ice sheets – Greenland, West Antarctica and the Wilkes Basin in East Antarctica. The potential collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet is seen as a key tipping point, as its loss could eventually <a href="https://science.sciencemag.org/content/324/5929/901" target="_blank">raise global sea levels by 3.3 meters</a> with important regional variations.</p><p>More than that, we would be on the irreversible path to full land-ice melt, causing sea levels to rise by up to 30 meters, roughly at the rate of two meters per century, or maybe faster. Just look at the raised beaches around the world, at the last high stand of global sea level, at the end of the Pleistocene period around 120,0000 years ago, to see the evidence of such a warm world, which was just 2°C warmer than the present day.</p>
Cutting Off Circulation<p>As well as devastating low-lying and coastal areas around the world, melting polar ice could set off another tipping point: a disablement to the AMOC.</p><p>This circulation system drives a northward flow of warm, salty water on the upper layers of the ocean from the tropics to the northeast Atlantic region, and a southward flow of cold water deep in the ocean.</p><p>The ocean conveyor belt has a major effect on the climate, seasonal cycles and temperature in western and northern Europe. It means the region is warmer than other areas of similar latitude.</p><p>But melting ice from the Greenland ice sheet could threaten the AMOC system. It would dilute the salty sea water in the north Atlantic, making the water lighter and less able or unable to sink. This would slow the engine that drives this ocean circulation.</p><p><a href="https://www.carbonbrief.org/atlantic-conveyor-belt-has-slowed-15-per-cent-since-mid-twentieth-century" target="_blank">Recent research</a> suggests the AMOC has already weakened by around 15% since the middle of the 20th century. If this continues, it could have a major impact on the climate of the northern hemisphere, but particularly Europe. It may even lead to the <a href="https://ore.exeter.ac.uk/repository/handle/10871/39731?show=full" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cessation of arable farming</a> in the UK, for instance.</p><p>It may also reduce rainfall over the Amazon basin, impact the monsoon systems in Asia and, by bringing warm waters into the Southern Ocean, further destabilize ice in Antarctica and accelerate global sea level rise.</p>
The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation has a major effect on the climate. Praetorius (2018)
Is it Time to Declare a Climate Emergency?<p>At what stage, and at what rise in global temperatures, will these tipping points be reached? No one is entirely sure. It may take centuries, millennia or it could be imminent.</p><p>But as COVID-19 taught us, we need to prepare for the expected. We were aware of the risk of a pandemic. We also knew that we were not sufficiently prepared. But we didn't act in a meaningful manner. Thankfully, we have been able to fast-track the production of vaccines to combat COVID-19. But there is no vaccine for climate change once we have passed these tipping points.</p><p><a href="https://www.weforum.org/reports/the-global-risks-report-2021" target="_blank">We need to act now on our climate</a>. Act like these tipping points are imminent. And stop thinking of climate change as a slow-moving, long-term threat that enables us to kick the problem down the road and let future generations deal with it. We must take immediate action to reduce global warming and fulfill our commitments to the <a href="https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Paris Agreement</a>, and build resilience with these tipping points in mind.</p><p>We need to plan now to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, but we also need to plan for the impacts, such as the ability to feed everyone on the planet, develop plans to manage flood risk, as well as manage the social and geopolitical impacts of human migrations that will be a consequence of fight or flight decisions.</p><p>Breaching these tipping points would be cataclysmic and potentially far more devastating than COVID-19. Some may not enjoy hearing these messages, or consider them to be in the realm of science fiction. But if it injects a sense of urgency to make us respond to climate change like we have done to the pandemic, then we must talk more about what has happened before and will happen again.</p><p>Otherwise we will continue playing Jenga with our planet. And ultimately, there will only be one loser – us.</p>
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