The first offshore wind park globally was installed in Denmark in 1991. Since then the offshore wind energy market has been developing slowly. Currently, majority of the installations in Europe are located in Denmark and the UK, countries that possess rich wind resources. There is no doubt that offshore installations offer higher productivity when compared with terrestrial turbines mainly due to higher wind speeds and more stable wind speeds. On average, wind speeds in the sea exceed 9-10m/s, which are significantly higher than average wind speeds of 6m/s on land.
Offshore wind energy development in Europe
Since 1991, the offshore wind power market has been developing moderately to reach slightly above 2,000 MW by the end of 2009, representing close to 3% of total wind energy projects installed in Europe. The European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) expects this to grow to over 21,000 MW by 2016. The drivers that will be responsible for this high growth are mainly related to government support and setting new goals for renewable energy contribution to final energy production. In 2009, Directive 2009/28/WE was established, setting a new target of sourcing 20% of total energy production in the EU from renewable energy, with individual targets for every member nation.
The two most recently installed offshore wind parks in 2009 bring the investment in offshore wind energy forward and increases its contribution to renewable energy production. Dong Energy’s Horns Rev 2 wind farm located in the west coast of Jutland in the North Sea, as well as Robin Rigg owned by E.ON in Solway Firth are equipped with Vestas turbines and use the monopile foundation technology. This solution is suitable for water depths of between 3m and 20m. For instalments located in territories with depths exceeding 20 meters tripod foundations are commonly used.
Upcoming offshore wind energy development in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE)
Wind energy capacity in the CEE countries has been developing gradually in recent years with Poland having the strongest position in terms of installed capacity (1,005 MW) and followed by Hungary (201 MW). Due to high productivity of offshore wind farms and the necessity to fulfil EU obligations on renewable energy share in energy production, CEE countries that have coastlines are beginning to think about opportunities in exploring offshore wind energy potential. However, none of them has built an offshore wind farm yet.