Scientists from the University of Exeter have joined Chinese researchers in designing and developing a new floating offshore wind project, aimed at generating green electricity for China’s industrialised and densely populated coastal regions.
The aim is to deliver a project that is commercially viable and that can withstand the area’s regular typhoons. It has been estimated that the China Sea has the largest capacity for offshore wind in the world; 500 gigawatts, a third of which being only exploitable with floating installations. Full installed capacity would generate up to 1,500 TWh of electricity per year, which would offset as many as 340 coal-fired power stations.
China’s dependence on coal to meet its electricity demand has caused heavy air pollution, which has been deemed responsible for 2.2million premature deaths. Renewable energy generation from onshore wind and solar installations is concentrated in the North West and South West of the country, whilst the industrialised regions of the South and South East, bordering the Chinese Sea, have the highest electricity demand. Transmission via the national grid network is already constrained. For these reasons, the Chinese Government has identified offshore wind as the solution to these challenges.
Britain leads the world in offshore renewables and, as announced earlier this month, the cost of offshore wind in the UK has fallen by 50% in three years’ time. Academic experts from the University of Exeter, the University of Edinburgh and the University of Bath in the areas of environmental assessment and modelling, hydrodynamic design, advanced computational modelling and risk based reliability engineering have now teamed up with their Chinese counterparts to establish “a long-lasting research base to develop resilient and cost effective offshore floating wind energy systems through collaborative research and innovation efforts, as well as capacity building and knowledge exchange”.
Ocean Technology Professor Lars Johanning from the University of Exeter said:
“The Joint UK-China Offshore Renewable Energy programme will build on a successful history of international collaboration between the UK and China, across a range of topics. This multidisciplinary programme has already delivered invaluable research on reducing energy demand at the city scale, the integration of electric vehicles and grid scale energy storage. These new projects bring together some of the leading minds in this field from the UK and China to increase our capacity to generate and distribute affordable, safe, clean energy.”