Large windfarms and the oil & gas industry could-co-exist to mutual benefit offshore, with the turbines delivering power both to production installations and ashore for domestic and industrial consumption, according to Norsk Hydro.
Speaking at the ONS conference, senior VP Alexandra Bech Gjorv admitted this was a “pet” concept – the Hywind project.
This involves locating floating turbines offshore.
She told delegates that it was perfectly possible to construct a technologically sound scenario where huge quantities of power could come from new-generation renewables, pointing out that the resources were endless.
“Yet many people I speak to still find it difficult to figure out how renewables can deliver enough quantities of (useable) energy,” said Gjorv.
Hywind is a long-term R &D project at Hydro. The idea is to put wind turbines on to floating spar buoys, then attach these to the seabed in deep water using dynamic anchoring.
“They can capture the highest winds on Earth ??? out of sight of people and away from the flying patterns for birds ??? not cheap, but with a lot of promise,” said Gjorv.
“To show the energy potential of this, we toyed with a comparison with one of our biggest and proudest projects these days – Ormen Lange.”
She said that the annual energy output from the Ormen Lange gas field would equate to 125 terawatt hours for 20 years.
“Now, if we replaced it by covering two offshore blocks of the North Sea with Hywind, it could also produce 125TWH.
“The only difference is that Hywind would continue to deliver endlessly, whereas Ormen Lange would shrink after only 20 years.
“But how can we start this. In theory, at least, we could combine the capabilities of the oil and renewables industries.
“In Norway, there’s a lot of thought on how we can electrify the North Sea ??? how we can stop emitting CO2 from gas turbines offshore.
“I’ve always been a bit sceptical about that because, since we don’t have any more power (generation capacity) in the Norwegian system, a cable to a platform would essentially just import lots of coal-fired electricity from the Continent. And I don’t think there’s a big environmental gain, even if it looks good.
“If we decided to lay a cable ??? to feed, for example, 100MW of (oil/gas) fields ??? but that it could handle 200MW of floating windpower, then on windy days, of which there are very many in the North Sea, we can foresee supplying 100MW to the field and 100MW of green electricity to shore.”
Gjorv claimed this could lead to a win-win situation and enable good use for such undersea cabling well beyond the lifetime of the platforms.
“This is just a vision. We’ve not decided to do this. But I think it shows both the magnitude of the potential in the Ormen Lange example and a practical way to make something happen – a bit like the EOR (extended oil recovery) jump-start initiative.”
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