Copper – Essential ingredient to the UK’s off-shore wind ambitions:
By: Simon Robeson, Partner: www.coretecventures.com
The UK is placing increasing reliance on a metal, the supply of which some argue is subject to as much individual and institutional speculation, manipulation and supply constraint as current oil and gas supplies. Does it follow that increasing our reliance on such a metal assists with our energy security concerns, as lauded by our politicians?
Copper use-age for on-Shore wind turbines:
On average, UK wind farms require 5.64 tonnes of copper per MW of rated capacity installed. That’s 1.6t/MW in the turbine and 4.04t/MW for the cabling.
Copper use-age for off-Shore wind turbines:
On average UK offshore wind farms require 9.58 tonnes / MW.
That’s 1.75t/MW in the turbine and 6.05t/MW for the cabling to the sub-station.
As of Jan 2011, the UK has the largest off-shore wind power capacity in Europe, installing a total of 1,341 MW.
As stated in the UK Renewable Energy Strategy, the current UK plan is to install approximately 12GW of additional on-shore wind power capacity and 25GW off-shore
by 2030. Using an average copper intensity of 5.64 tonnes/MW it has been estimated that this will require 208,680 tonnes of copper – and that’s for the UK alone.
Bringing this into sharp relief is the announcement in April 2010 by Vattenfall, which is currently installing a thirty-turbine wind farm off Barrow-in-Furness, that it finished three months of cable engineering works by completing the connection from the Ormonde Offshore Wind Farm to the UK’s National Grid - this required a 42km export cable made largely of copper.
We need to find an alternative to such metal hungry power tranmission, how about power (energy) storage in the form of hydrogen (see www.cellaenergy.com) i.e. capture the electricity in the form of Hydrogen and ‘ship’ it to shore where it can be consumer (combusted or electrochemically converted) in a ‘distributed [power] generation’ power plant.
Sources include: Energy Saving's trust and Ian Keith Falconer.