Offshore Wind: North Sea A Gold Mine

Europe is already a leader when it comes to offshore wind power, but countries such as Great Britain, Belgium, Denmark, Norway and the Netherlands are all looking to the North Sea as a potential site for even more offshore power production. And the Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR), Germany’s version of the U.S. space agency NASA, you might say, thinks it has a way to help make that happen.

The DLR has developed a system called Windspeed to find ideal sites for new wind plants. The DLR system measures average water depth and wind speed, while also taking into consideration wildlife and habitat protection and ship traffic. Based on its research, the DLR said it is technically possible to install 135 gigawatts (GW) worth of wind power plants in the North Sea – roughly equivalent to 135 nuclear plants, the agency said.

european offshore wind power

image via DLR

The DLR said this information could help the European Union reach its wind-power targets, but there still would be challenges to face in making it happen. The wind-power plants could only be constructed if all the countries bordering the North Sea had the right political and financial conditions, the DLR said. More areas of the North Sea, for example, would have to be made accessible to wind development by governments. The countries would also have to figure out logistics like supplies, power purchasing and how to get the power harnessed from the wind onto power grids.

If countries bordering the North Sea went ahead and enacted their renewable energy plans, it’s expected that they could increase Europe’s wind power capacity by 32 GW by 2020, and they could even potentially continue to install another 100 GW by 2o3o.

Laura Caseley is a graduate of SUNY New Paltz and a resident of New York State’s Hudson Valley. She writes for several publications and when she’s not writing, she can usually be found painting in her makeshift studio or enjoying the scenery of her hometown.