Wales’ first floating offshore wind project gets go-ahead
If the floating wind demonstration project is granted final planning permission, Erebus would be installed 44km from the Welsh shoreline, in the Celtic Sea, and would allow the energy companies Total and Simply Blue Energy, through their joint venture Blue Gem Wind, to conduct a trial of floating wind technology at water depths of 70 metres.
Because floating wind technology does not rely on traditional fixed foundations, it can be installed in deeper waters, where there is generally more wind. It is a key part of the UK’s plan to deliver 75GW of offshore energy by 2050. The research centre Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult has estimated that the Celtic Sea alone could eventually provide up to 50GW of offshore capacity; it could also create thousands of energy sector jobs in Wales and the south-west of England.
Hugh Kelly, the project managing director of Blue Gem Wind, was enthusiastic about the potential for the Erebus project: "This first project in Wales will begin to unlock the significant potential of floating wind in the Celtic Sea. It is the first of the stepping-stone projects required to launch a new chapter in the development of offshore energy in the South West; a new industry that can deliver significant benefits for the local supply chain and the coastal communities of Wales and the wider UK”.
Lesley Griffiths, the Welsh minister for environment, energy and rural affairs, mentioned that the development of new and renewable energy sources is vital for the United Kingdom’s climate commitments: "I am pleased to welcome this next step in harnessing the potential for energy identified in the recently published Wales National Marine Plan," she said. "We will continue to ensure projects bring sustainable jobs and investment to Wales whilst delivering on our legally binding climate commitments”.
Drax advances biomass strategy with Pinnacle acquisition
The Group’s enlarged supply chain will have access to 4.9 million tonnes of operational capacity from 2022. Of this total, 2.9 million tonnes are available for Drax’s self-supply requirements in 2022, which will rise to 3.4 million tonnes in 2027.
The £424 million acquisition of the Canadian biomass pellet producer supports Drax' ambition to be carbon negative by 2030, using bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) and will make a "significant contribution" in the UK cutting emissions by 78% by 2035 (click here).
This summer Drax will undertake maintenance on its CfD(2) biomass unit, including a high-pressure turbine upgrade to reduce maintenance costs and improve thermal efficiency, contributing to lower generation costs for Drax Power Station.
In March, Drax secured Capacity Market agreements for its hydro and pumped storage assets worth around £10 million for delivery October 2024-September 2025.
The limitations on BECCS are not technology but supply, with every gigatonne of CO2 stored per year requiring approximately 30-40 million hectares of BECCS feedstock, according to the Global CCS Institute. Nonetheless, BECCS should be seen as an essential complement to the required, wide-scale deployment of CCS to meet climate change targets, it concludes.