Carbon impact of an offshore windfarm (C-power)

The Context
C-Power is a consortium of Belgian and international shareholders that developed and operates the first offshore windfarm in Belgium, 30km from the coastline. With its 325MW capacity it contributes to 7% of the renewable energy capacity needed for Belgium to meet its 2020 objective. Enough to provide power to 600.000 inhabitants. C-Power offered 3000 jobs during construction and will continue to offer 100 jobs for the next 20 years. Belgian offshore windfarms capacity will grow up to 2200MW and 20.000 jobs. Belgium is the third important offshore windfarm producer in Europe (after Denmark and the UK). European offshore windfarm capacity will evolve to a 20.000MW by 2020 and represent 170.000 jobs (source: EWEA).

The Challenge
What is the carbon impact of the entire value chain of an offshore windfarm? Sometimes, critical opinions claim the importance of the carbon impact of building an offshore windfarm. Making an objective value chain carbon footprint of the offshore windfarm can verify these claims. It would also allow C-Power to make statements on the real carbon impact of their project.

The Trajectory

  • Mapping
    We mapped the carbon impact of all materials used to construct the windfarm: wind turbines, platforms, power transmission cables, transformers, grout,... But also the fuel from vessels for construction and maintenance during 20 years, decommissioning, transport of materials, commuting, waste... and even food consumed during the construction. The end-of-life impact of materials was also taken into account. 
  • Storytelling
    We delivered content and visualized facts about carbon impact for C-Powers press conference for the windfarm inauguration in September 2013.

Results and Resolutions
Claims about important carbon emissions due to production, construction, maintenance and dismantling of an offshore windfarm are not correct. In fact, electricity from the C-Power offshore windfarm has a value chain carbon emission of 19g CO2/kWh. Production emissions amount to 2,26g CO2/kWh or 115 times lower than average Belgian electricity mix (260g CO2/kWh). 346.000 ton CO2 emissions emitted during production, construction and dismantling are payed back in 18 months. C-Power avoids 415.000 ton CO2 per year if compared to the Belgian electricity mix. That is the equivalent of the yearly absorption capacity of one third of the forests in Flanders.

Country: Belgium
Client: C-power
Sector: Energy
Services: Carbon & environmental management; Sustainability storytelling & awareness
Year: 2013

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