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Explained: UK's offshore wind farm generates its first power, where India stands

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An offshore wind energy plant is much cleaner than a coal-based power plant and is a good way to diversify energy assets. Therefore, several nations are investing in this technology. India, too, has huge ambitions in the offshore wind energy sector as the country is blessed with a coastline of about 7,600 km.

Explained: UK's offshore wind farm generates its first power, where India stands
Hornsea 2, an offshore wind farm, situated in waters around 89 km off the United Kingdom’s east coast generated its first power on December 18, according to Danish energy firm Orsted. Spread across an area of 462 sq km, the farm, once operational in 2022, will earn the title of “world’s largest operating offshore wind farm”, says the company. Orsted said the farm will power 1.3 million homes.
What is offshore wind energy?
The energy generated from wind farms that are erected in water bodies is called offshore wind energy. An offshore wind farm is a complete power plant with all the facilities needed to capture the wind power, convert it into electricity and supply it to the main electricity network.


Countries leading the offshore wind energy race
The United Kingdom currently holds the first spot in the generation of offshore wind energy. The country currently has a total wind energy potential of 10,428 MW. UK's authorities are targetting 300 GW of offshore wind by 2050.
Not just the UK, other nations are also taking steps to generate more power through offshore wind energy. Closely following the UK is China, which has a wind energy potential of 9,996 MW.
The others in the fray are – Germany (7,689 MW), Denmark (1,701 MW), The Netherlands (2,611 MW), Belgium (2,261 MW), Sweden (192 MW).
The United States, however, has some catching up to do with the European Union in this area. The country's offshore wind energy facility is located in waters off Rhode Island. The farm started commercial operations in late 2016. In March this year, the US Departments of Energy, Interior, and Commerce had announced that they wish to roll out 30 GW of offshore wind by 2030.


India's ambitions
India, too, has huge ambitions in the offshore wind energy sector as the country is blessed with a coastline of about 7,600 km. The Centre, in 2015, had notified the “National Offshore Wind Energy Policy”. Under the policy, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) set a target of 5 GW of offshore wind installations by 2022 and 30 GW by 2030.
In an assessment carried out by the National Institute of Wind Energy, it was revealed that the seven states—Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, and Tamil Nadu—can contribute immensely to offshore wind energy production.
Impediments to India's offshore wind energy goals
Higher costs of offshore turbine and challenges in grid connectivity has impeded India's growth in the sector. A March 2021 report by the Lok Sabha's 17th Standing Committee on Energy stated, "It is estimated that the per megawatt cost of the offshore wind turbine would be two to three times the cost of onshore wind turbines."
Nonetheless, the government anticipates that the cost of offshore projects will drop. In its report published in March 2021, the MNRE said, "With strong onshore wind turbine manufacturing base in India, the price of the offshore wind turbines and the tariff are expected to be competitive and at par with onshore wind turbine rates, at the time of large commercial-scale deployment of offshore wind turbines in the country."



Road ahead
An offshore wind energy plant is much cleaner than a coal-based power plant and is a good way to diversify energy assets. Therefore, several nations are investing in this technology. To increase the profitability of offshore wind farms, several nations are setting up a desalination plant or a hydrogen recovery plant around such facilities.
According to the Global Wind Report of 2021, compiled by the Global Wind Energy Council, the offshore wind market has grown from 29.2 GW in 2019 to 35.3 GW in 2020 globally.


 
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