US$13 billion to be spent on renewable energy projects

News - May 27, 2005

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More than 2,300 wind turbines are forecast to be installed offshore over the next five years at a cost of $13 billion, according to energy analysts Douglas-Westwood Limited. Speaking at the Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce Renewable Energy Business Breakfast earlier this month, John Westwood stated his firm's belief that offshore renewable energy could form an important part of the energy mix for the UK and other countries.

"The rise in both oil and gas prices that we have experienced over the past three years caused by booming demand from China and decline of non-OPEC production has focused attention on the fragility of the supply and demand balance" said Westwood.

Forecasts produced in 'The World Offshore Oil & Gas Report' show that European oil production is now going into decline and that gas production is close to its peak. Increasing volumes of oil and gas will have to be imported from Russia and the Middle East at a very high cost to meet future demand.

The result is that there are now growing concerns over security of supply as European politicians begin to realise that political unrest in Russia, a previously source of interruption to gas supplies, could result in the lights going out in Europe and that a minor disruption in the Middle East could cause an instant redoubling of oil prices.

Major oil (& gas) price increases are also likely within the next decade as oil demand is forecast to exceed supply. Research for 'The World Oil Supply Report', shows that the crunch point is likely to occur sometime around 2012 unless immediate action is taken - "sadly, there is little evidence of governments developing strategies to address this situation", said Westwood.

High oil & gas prices have, however, served to greatly improve the comparative economics of offshore renewable energy, a technology that has been attracting considerable attention of late as onshore sites are used up.

A recent analysis by Douglas-Westwood and ODE Limited of expenditure on the Scroby Sands offshore windfarm, a 60 MW, 30 turbine project which came into production off the coast of Norfolk earlier this year shows such projects can bring considerable economic benefit to UK companies and workers.

Of the £80 million expenditure, 48% was spent in the UK, with 16% being in the East of England region. Over 656,000 man-hours were committed to manufacturing, construction and operations, with workers across the UK winning 73% of this and local people 30%. "It is an excellent endorsement of the government's action in promoting offshore wind" said Douglas-Westwood's Owen Williams, joint author of the new analysis.

In considering the other energy options, John Westwood said that hydrogen is not the immediate answer as it is in reality a power storage medium, energy is required to produce the hydrogen and it has very high implementation costs in terms of distribution, filling stations and new cars.

Methane hydrates, a form of solidified methane, is a material that occurs at great water depths, also offers very long-term prospects with Japan engaged in a major drilling and research programme.

One of the largest resources is coal, with huge reserves worldwide. But the environmental costs are considerable with the result that number of programmes is underway endeavouring to develop 'clean coal' technology.

"We have long forecast the ultimate fall-back position for the UK will be nuclear power and are interested to see that the programme to soften up the electorate is now well underway."

'The World Offshore Oil & Gas Forecast' and its companion volumes 'The World Oil Supply Report' and 'The World Oil Supply Report' are published by. They are part of 'The World' series of business studies used by companies in 32 countries.

'The Refocus Marine Renewable Energy Report' presents detailed market forecasts and analysis for the 2005-2009 period. Forecasts show Capex and capacity, and are split by component and country. Future markets for marine renewables, cabling, foundations and turbines are also given. ISBN: 1-905183-03-8.

'Scroby Sands - Supply Chain Analysis' is a detailed analysis of expenditure on the UK's latest windfarm development by Douglas-Westwood Limited and ODE Limited, commissioned by Renewables East.

For further information contact: Lesley Lindsay-Watson,, Tel: + 44 1227 780999; Fax: + 44 1227 780880; e-mail: admin@dw-1.com; www.dw-1.com

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