14.12.2020 16:03:44 //
Nina Garlo-Melkas
Eemeli Sarka

Offshore wind energy – sustainable blue growth for the Baltic Sea region

In February, Port of Helsinki Ltd announced that it will donate a total of EUR 135,000 to the Baltic Sea Fund of the University of Helsinki over a period of three years. In the spring, the University used the donation to hire doctoral student Jamie Jenkins to study the opportunities afforded by offshore wind energy in Finland.

Jamie Jenkins’ research project Offshore Wind Energy 2100 – Pathways for Renewable Energy Transition in Finland is part of the BlueAdapt research programme. This programme is developing solutions that support ‘blue growth’, that is, solutions that safeguard both aquatic ecosystems and the sustainability of social and economic systems.

Australian-born Jenkins moved to Finland in 2018 to do a master’s degree in environmental economics at the University of Helsinki. He began his doctoral studies in May 2020 after graduating with his master’s degree.

“For my doctoral studies, I wanted to switch the focus of my research to renewable energy sources. Offshore wind energy has significant development potential both in Finland and abroad, and is an exciting and emerging field of research,” says Jenkins on his motivation for postgraduate study.

Jenkins says that offshore wind energy currently plays only a small role in Finland’s energy production, as its maximum capacity is 70.7 megawatts compared to 2,213 megawatts for onshore wind. All in all, wind power only accounts for a couple of per cent of Finland’s energy consumption.

However, Finland does have significant potential to increase its offshore wind energy capacity. As a source of energy, offshore wind also has many advantages over other forms of renewable energy and traditional energy production. 

“There are numerous offshore wind energy development projects underway in Finland at the moment, and capacity is expected to increase over the course of the decade. Compared to other European countries, Finland still has significant opportunities to develop its offshore wind capacity.”

As part of his research, Jenkins and his research team will organise three workshops during 2021. The workshop participants will work with operators and experts in the sector to assess long-term development outlooks for offshore wind energy.

“With the aid of scenario models, we’ll be analysing alternative ways of increasing offshore wind energy capacity, while also taking other marine uses and conservation requirements into account. In the workshops, we’ll discuss topics such as the kind of legislation that would accelerate growth in offshore wind energy, and we’ll also assess outlooks and future challenges in the sector.”

What does the doctoral student expect Finnish offshore wind energy to look like in 5–10 years’ time?

“Offshore wind energy will play a much larger role in the production of renewable energy. I also believe that it will be a more recognised form of renewable energy, and its benefits will be better understood.”