Offshore wind energy is increasingly contributing to the growth of the wind industry and the global energy transition. Since 2013, the market has grown by an average of 21% per year, with more than 4 GW of new capacity installed in 2017 and 2018, representing 8% of the total new wind power installations in both years. According to the World Wind Energy Council’s (GWEC) market outlook report, the share of new offshore wind capacity will increase to 10% and more in the future, with 6 to 8 GW of new capacity expected to be installed each year, according to GWEC Market Intelligence forecasts.
While much of the current facility comes from mature markets such as Europe, where there was an installed capacity of 18 GW by the end of 2018, most of the new growth will come from emerging markets. Asia will become a leader in offshore wind energy, with 100 GW of installed marine capacity by 2030. China will account for most of this capacity, even assuming Europe’s leading position, while other Asian markets such as Taiwan, Japan, South Korea and India will also become increasingly important in the coming years.
It is clear that markets around the world are opening their eyes to the enormous commercial and investment opportunities that offshore wind energy can offer, creating thousands of jobs and contributing to their climate goals in the process. The industry continues to advance significantly in cost competitiveness, with an average LCOE of $50/MWh within reach, as just demonstrated at the latest wind auction in the UK, where winning bids dropped from €45/MWh.
In addition, floating offshore wind is becoming increasingly profitable with pilot projects being developed globally. This will be a technological development that will change the game and may add even more capacity in the coming years. Combined with GWEC’s expectation that the government of existing offshore markets will increase their targets and volumes by 2030 means that offshore wind energy growth will remain very much alive, reaching 220 GW by 2030 according to GWEC Market Intelligence.
According to the authors of the report, to bring the offshore wind market globally and support the creation of a global offshore wind industry, it is crucial that governments and investors show a long-term commitment. “This will be necessary so that we can continue to reduce costs in all areas, such as technology, financing and project planning, using the experience of mature markets such as Europe.
Although there is no “copy and paste” solution to open a new offshore wind market, we can learn from how other markets overcame their own challenges and consider this within the unique context of an emerging market. This is especially relevant when establishing a supply chain, as it is essential to carefully assess the existing industrial footprint in a market in order to find the cheapest and most efficient solution.
Regional solutions, as has happened in Europe, have proven successful, while the search for a country-specific configuration requires governments to commit to large volumes over a long period of time. In all cases, project developers, investors and operators must adapt to rapidly evolving technology for the industry to create an efficient, global supply chain that can support market growth.
Looking beyond 2030, GWEC expects offshore wind to play an important role in the energy transition. As more and more markets enter the offshore industry and innovative technology, such as floating solutions, become widespread, offshore wind energy will continue to become increasingly cost competitive. With its large scale, offshore wind energy has a real opportunity to replace traditional energy sources, contributing to a global green economy.