Jul 29, 2023
Keynote presentation on "how climate change make the case for decarbonation"
Our executive director was invited at the SEANERGY BY BLUESIGN offshore wind exhibition at Paris Porte de Versailles to give a presentation on "how climate change makes the case for decarbonization."
The exhibition took place in a very friendly atmosphere: everyone knows each other; it's a small microcosm of the energy industry. The French sector currently employs around 6,500 people, with an expected increase to 20,000 jobs by 2035.
Offshore wind is one of the pillars of the energy transition in Europe, with coastal areas boasting excellent wind resources. Several hundred gigawatts are planned by 2050, including 40GW in France. The projected capacity stands at 300GW, which might be revised upwards.
This technology will benefit from increasingly integrated electrical connections between coastal countries and between these countries and the European grid. For example, in 2021, the North Sea Link connected the UK and Norway, sharing hydro-offshore resources, and the Nord Link linked Germany and Norway.
Currently, electricity production costs between 40-50 EUR/MWh, with capacity factors of 40-50%, and the industry is moving towards 60%. Technological advancements mainly focus on increasing turbine size, improving designs, and enhancing structures to absorb vibrations. Offshore installations present unique challenges due to their marine locations, dealing with corrosion, saline air, strong winds, and waves. However, these technical challenges are well-known, considering we've had offshore oil platforms for decades. The support structures will evolve to minimize environmental impacts from anchoring and to allow for more flexible locations, such as floating wind with floaters.
The total cost of such projects ranges from hundreds of millions to billions of euros. Despite complex contractual arrangements and interface risks, non-recourse financing works efficiently, backed by electricity sales under a Contract for Difference (CfD) scheme. The "strike price" is granted through competitive bidding, and electricity is then sold on the market. If the market price is higher than the strike price, the government benefits from the difference; otherwise, it pays the difference. This system allowed for gains during the crisis. Equity investments come from electric utilities like EDF, energy companies like Total, pension and investment funds, usually significant players given the large sums involved.
These projects require special consultations, as they are related to fishing activities, coastal landscape, and environmental impact studies concerning aquatic life. There are two phases to consider:
The construction phase, which causes disturbances, can be mitigated by scheduling certain operations during specific seasons, using "progressive" noise to scare fish away, or implementing bubble barriers.
The operational phase has positive impacts, creating sanctuaries and shelters for marine life.
The projects are strongly supported by regional authorities and bring together various maritime professions, creating a unique and enjoyable atmosphere.
Thanks to all the involved stakeholders, and keep up the good work!