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Offshore wind ‘technically feasible’ for Guernsey

Fri 19 May 2017 by David Foxwell

Offshore wind ‘technically feasible’ for Guernsey
A study conducted by Xodus suggests that offshore wind could help meet Guernsey’s need for electricity

A feasibility study has concluded that offshore wind energy could be viable in several locations off the coast of Guernsey, one of the Channel Islands in the English Channel off the coast of Normandy.

The study was carried out by Xodus Group, an engineering consultancy with experience in the oil and gas, utilities and renewable industries, and funded jointly by the States of Guernsey and Guernsey Electricity. It concluded that there are a range of technically feasible options to develop an offshore wind project off Guernsey.

Other findings included: developing a modest project, of 30 megawatts (MW), will achieve the fundamental objective of an independent supply of electricity together with the benefits associated with energy diversification namely: security; price certainty; sustainability and lower carbon. The cost is higher than current French importation and on-island generation; to mitigate the higher cost it is recommend that the majority of the project is funded by the States of Guernsey to secure the lowest cost of finance.

At this stage of analysis the preferred site is far offshore towards the 12nm boundary. This location is in relatively deep water and most suited to the new floating wind turbine structures. The lowest cost site is likely to be in shallow waters off the north coast (or any coastal site). However, this near-shore location may have visual and other human impact. Consideration should be given to pursuing an extended wave and wind data gathering programme that could be relatively low cost but high value for the future.

The States of Guernsey Renewable Energy Team has been progressing the recommendations following receipt of the report, including the addition of remote sensing equipment at Chouet headland alongside the existing wind monitor. The Renewable Energy team will continue to progress its work in this area, before discussing the viability of such a project with the Committee for the Environment & Infrastructure.

Deputy Shane Langlois, member of the Committee for the Environment & Infrastructure, said: “A 30MW offshore windfarm has the potential to generate around one third of Guernsey’s current electricity requirements. While the cost of electricity generated by wind turbines would, at the moment, be more expensive than importing or on-island generation, it is clear that the gap between the two is narrowing and will likely continue to do so as the technology further evolves. Indeed recent tenders in northern Europe have been at very competitive prices. The committee welcomes the findings of this study and, while not without risk, believes there are significant opportunities in progressing this work, such as security of supply, energy independence, fixed prices and lower emissions.”