14 May 19 Eddie's Blog Ireland

Renewable resource availability in Europe

The first question with respect to renewable resource availability has to be “do sufficient renewable resources exist or do we have to invent new generation of technologies that are nor there now?”

Consider the following 2 maps of European energy

The wind resource:

There is a massive difference between the onshore and offshore wind resources of Europe.

These differences arise for 2 reasons:

  1. Wind is a fluid and it loses energy due to friction from hills, buildings, trees, etc when it flows over land
  2. Community resistance to wind. Wind can be perceived as noisy, suffers from visual intrusion, causes shadow flicker, and has run into difficulty with a perception that the value of property in the vicinity of a wind farm is diminished

There is no such difficulty with offshore wind.

Consider the following areas:

In a fully decarbonised Europe publicly supplied electricity will stand at 7800 TWH.  As can be seen from the chart above the seas and near ocean around Northern Europe are potentially capable of supplying approximately 9 times the total electricity demand of Europe.

Such a density of generation is neither needed nor is really possible.  Competing uses for sea space, such as shipping, fishing, and environmentally sensitive areas will continue to be catered for.  Besides each country with a sea aspect will require to have its share of local generation.  The principle message from the above is: there is lots of room for everyone.

As can be seen from the above solar intensity map, the economic place to build solar is around the Mediterranean basin.  Ground mounted solar occupies one Ha per megawatt.  A square kilometre therefore produces 100mw.  In my previous blog it was estimated that 950,000 mw solar PV were needed for complete decarbonisation.  Therefore an aggregate total area of 95,000  Km2 is needed. 

Again there is plenty of room available.  It will be spread across the Mediterranean countries.

There is no need to try and find exotic new R + D based means of generation.

What there is a need to do is to develop a meshed off-shore grid to take the power from where it can be generated and transmitting it to centres of population and industry.  This grid is called the Supergrid and is the missing component that will allow Europe to reach its Paris goals of complete decarbonisation.