JERSEY “has the fundamentals for success and is going at wind power in the right way”, according to the World Bank’s global lead for offshore wind.
Dr Mark Leybourne, a Jerseyman now based in Washington DC who has supported governments and project developers in over 30 countries, said the “timing was right for Jersey to start developing its offshore-wind resources”.
Last month, the government announced plans for an offshore facility that would generate sufficient electricity to meet the Island’s needs and allow it to export energy, lodging a proposition seeking in-principle support from the States. The wind farm would be privately funded and designed.
Dr Leybourne, who has been advising the Jersey government on renewable energy for more than a decade, said that extensive research on environmental and social mitigation measures around offshore wind energy revealed “no evidence of significant negative impacts”.
“As a result, over the past decade, the industry has boomed because of the benefits it provides. The offshore-wind industry has not been immune to the impacts of recent world events on global supply chains, inflation and interest rates; now that the pain is known and the industry is adjusting, costs are expected to reduce again in the near future.
“Given that it typically takes at least seven years to plan, develop and construct a project, the timing is right for Jersey to start developing its offshore-wind resources,” he said.
A former Victoria College pupil, Dr Leybourne took a degree in aerospace engineering and obtained his doctorate in offshore renewable energy at the University of Southampton.
He first worked for the government in 2011, exploring the feasibility of tidal stream energy which he concludes could only supply around 13% of the Island’s electricity requirements, using technology as yet not available commercially.
Seven years later he advised the government on an alternative tidal-range energy scheme, generating electricity through changing water height within an artificial lagoon.
The scale and complexity would be a major challenge, let alone understanding and mitigating the environmental impact of walling off St Aubin’s Bay, he concluded.
But offshore wind offers the potential to “fulfil all of Jersey’s energy needs and have the same amount left over, thereby providing enough energy for the Island to become energy independent”.