Mobile Energy: Moving Power Sources Offshore

by Sharon Ha

A recent Greentech Media article outlines the worldwide trend of mobile energy plants being moved into the ocean. Author Julia Pyper surveys energy initiatives regarding mobile power plants across the globe, including China, Russia, Japan, U.S., and Norway. Much of construction will be completed soon, by late 2010s or early 2020s. Pyper also examines the pros and cons of each policy, noting how benefits differ depending on the type of energy plant. Also, these plants are expected to be less harmful to the environment than onshore plants, take up less livable space, and are cheaper to maintain. However, it will be hard to find staff and equipment for these floating devices, and radioactive substances could potentially contaminate the surrounding areas.

Chinese General Nuclear (CGN) is planning on finishing a floating nuclear power plant by 2020. Additionally, China’s National Development and Reform Commission is planning on completing a small modular floating reactor named ACPR50S by 2030. The Chinese government asserts that these devices are important initiatives because the plants can supply power to remote areas and be used as backup generators in case of a natural disaster or power failure.

Regarding solar power, Japan is building a floating solar plant near Tokyo that is expected to be in use by March 2018. It will generate around 16,170 megawatts of electricity per year, enough to power approximately 5000 households. In the U.S., a 12.5 megawatt floating solar project, smaller only to Japan’s solar plant, is being built by Sonoma Clean Power.

Large wind energy plants, known as wind parks, will be constructed by an international group of companies, including Mitsubishi Corporations and the Chinese Chiyoda Corporation. It will have a capacity of 25-megawatts and should be completed by 2018. Wind parks are different from the nuclear and solar plants because they can be set up in deeper water, farther away from land. This provides better energy even, because the wind is stronger in deeper ocean. Additionally, this prevents interference with fishing and cargo ships. The wind park follows the model of Norwegian energy company Statoil, which built the first floating wind plant. Statoil is also currently planning on building another 30-megawatt wind park in Scotland, which will be complete in 2017.

Lastly, the floating, production, storage, and offloading (FSPO) market seems to be exploding. The FPSO vessels market is expected to almost double, ultimately reaching $38.7 billion by 2019. Exxon Mobil Corp., Statoil, and DNV GL, among others, are currently doing research in building these vessels in addition to their current projects.

 

 

Pyper, Julia. “Flotation Is the Next Big Thing in Energy Production,” January 27, 2016. http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/floatation-is-the-next-big-thing-in-energy-production.

 

“World’s First Floating Wind Farm to Be Built off Scottish Coast.” Accessed February 2, 2016. http://www.gizmag.com/worlds-first-floating-wind-farm/40383/.

 

 

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