North Sea winds getting stronger say scientists

Winds in the southern half of the North Sea are getting stronger, say research scientists. More surprising, the biggest increase is in summer wind speeds, reports British Atmos Consulting, which has recorded the change on its "Windscan" offshore wind database. Atmos reports that summer energy outputs in the south North Sea are up 50% from 1990 levels. If the trend continues, the summer output in 2020 could be double 1990, it says. Summer wind speeds now average around 7 m/s, up from around 6 m/s in the 1990s. The seemingly small increase corresponds to a 50% increase in energy output, explains Atmos. The increase is more pronounced in the southern North Sea than further north, but is also measurable there. Atmos attributes the changes to global warming affecting weather patterns. The research could boost the financial case for new projects planned in the North Sea.

French start

The first stage of the application process to install 30 wind turbines off the south coast of France has been started by EDF Energies Nouvelles (EDF EN), the renewables arm of state utility EDF. It is seeking to erect the turbines off the coast of Gruissan and Port-la-Nouvelle in the Mediterranean, according to local press reports. EDF EN has apparently been studying the site since 2006 after oil giant Total conducted feasibility studies for an offshore wind farm in the region in the late 1990s before pulling out for technical and financial reasons. EDF EN's chosen site is said to be closer to shore. The firm says it is too early to talk about the project, the details of which are still evolving. EDF EN owns a 20.8% share in C-Power, which is building the 300 MW Thornton Bank in the Belgian North Sea.

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