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Offshore Wind Energy Requires Multidisciplinary Collaboration and Expertise

VAMK´s Fesio researcher Mr Toni Lustila  has written an article " Offshore Wind Energy Requires Multidisciplinary Collaboration and Expertise” . The whole article can be read from the edited publication "Yhdessä edelläkäyden: Tutkimus-, kehittämis- ja innovaatiotoiminta 2023"  and below is a summary of the article.

The European Union's strategy for promoting renewable energy produced at sea (COM/2020/741) aims to support Europe's transition toward more sustainable and environmentally friendly energy production while creating opportunities for economic growth and employment. The strategy also aims to ensure that the EU achieves climate-related goals, such as decarbonization and pollution reduction, by 2050.

Offshore wind power is seen as a key solution for increasing energy production in Europe. The European seas and maritime areas have enormous potential for renewable energy production, which can help the EU achieve its sustainable energy transition and climate neutrality by 2050. By the end of 2022, Europe's total wind power capacity was 255 GW, with 30 GW coming from offshore wind. In 2022, 2.5 GW of new offshore wind capacity was installed, but the EU's targets for renewable energy production capacity are slipping away, as meeting these goals would require over 30 GW of new wind capacity annually.

In Finland, offshore wind capacity is still marginal, but numerous projects are in progress. There are 32 offshore wind projects planned in Finland's economic zone and territorial waters, with a combined capacity of nearly 58 GW. Currently, Finland has 24 offshore wind turbines with a total capacity of 70.7 MW, so significant growth is needed to realize these visions. Finland's conditions are favorable for offshore wind power, but project implementation requires careful planning and environmental impact assessments.

Compared to onshore wind projects, offshore wind projects cause fewer disturbances to humans, but they face other challenges, such as considering shipping, fishing, and marine nature conservation areas. Offshore wind projects are typically located in water depths exceeding 15 meters, where environmental impacts are more moderate. Floating offshore wind power may be the most environmentally friendly way to generate electricity, as it does not affect the seabed in the same way as fixed structures. Permit practices for offshore wind projects vary based on their location. In territorial waters, environmental impact assessments and multiple permits are required, while the approval of the Council of State is needed in the economic zone. Finland has the potential for significant growth in offshore wind power, but it requires investments and long-term planning.

Lustila's article describes three different Finnish offshore wind projects: Korsnäs, Tahkoluoto expansion, and Halla. The article covers the current status of these projects and their technical-economic aspects. Finally, observations from international research are presented, and the following summary is provided. In Finland, there are 24 offshore wind turbines (70.7 MW) and 32 planned projects (58 GW). Investments of €50 billion are planned for the west coast, creating employment for thousands of people. The Korsnäs project requires gravity-based foundations and new power lines due to seabed conditions. The Tahkoluoto expansion uses cost-effective steel jacket foundations. The Halla project investigates seabed conditions and hydrogen production possibilities. Technical solutions and impacts of offshore wind power vary by region. Floating foundations are becoming more common in deeper waters, and hydrogen production offers new opportunities. Offshore wind power is a crucial part of the Baltic Sea's renewable energy future, and research continues. Cross-border energy infrastructure and integration of gas and electricity sectors are essential, and multidisciplinary collaboration creates valuable expertise in demand internationally.

This review and translation is written by principal lecturer Lotta Saarikoski, VAMK`s Fesio project worker.

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