Global offshore wind energy set to surge over next decade

Offshore wind is set to surge eightfold by 2030 and it is believed it may create up to 900,000 jobs globally by that time.

The most recent report by the Global Wind Energy Council said 2019 was the best year in history for global offshore wind and that global capacity could grow eightfold.

The data was released in the latest Global Offshore Wind Report, which provides a comprehensive overview of the offshore wind sector globally with the latest data and analysis on market growth, industry forecasts and data-based insights on emerging markets.

This year 6.1 GW of new capacity was added and 6.6 GW is still expected to be installed in 2020 despite the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis.

Offshore wind is being seen as a major contributor to post-COVID economic recovery by governments around the world.

While Europe continues to be the leading region for installations, the report claims that the market is primed to take off in the Asia-Pacific region, with Mainland China seen as the future global leader in new capacity and markets like Taiwan, Vietnam, Japan and South Korea set to accelerate by 2030.

It is predicted that China will install 52 GW of new offshore wind capacity by 2030, while Taiwan is set to become the second-largest offshore wind market in Asia after Mainland China, with a goal of 5.5 GW by 2025 and an additional 10 GW by 2035.

GWEC Market Intelligence forecasts that through 2030, more than 205 GW of new offshore wind capacity will be added globally – a 15 GW increase from last year’s outlook – buoyed by policy ambition, declining technology costs and international commitments to decarbonisation.

Floating offshore wind is believed to reach full commercialisation by 2030 with at least 6 GW installed globally.

Turbine technology is also set to improve in both efficiency and resilience, resulting in levelised cost of energy (LCOE) reductions and increased adoption.

Offshore wind has been less impacted by the pandemic compared to other energy sectors, and GWEC Market Intelligence expect that thanks to continued growth, 900,000 jobs will be created in the industry over the next decade, demonstrating its viability to be a key driver for a global green recovery.

The predicted growth of offshore wind could create up to 900,000 jobs globally. (Nicholas Doherty, Unsplash)

Ben Backwell, CEO at GWEC said that offshore wind was “truly going global” as governments recognise the role it can play in “kickstarting post-COVID economic recovery.”

“Over the coming decade we will see emerging offshore markets like Japan, Korea and Vietnam move to full deployment, and see the first offshore turbines installed in a number of new countries in Asia, Latin America and Africa,” he said.

“The report shows that 900,000 jobs will be created in the offshore sector over the next decade – and this number can only increase if policymakers put in place recovery strategies that can further accelerate growth of the sector.

“Furthermore, 1 GW of offshore wind power avoids 3.5 MT CO2 – making it the most effective available large-scale technology to avoid carbon emissions and displace fossil fuels in many geographies.”

The report asserts that global offshore wind capacity will surge to over 234 GW by 2030 from 29.1 GW at the end of 2019, led by exponential growth in the Asia-Pacific region and continued strong growth in Europe.

China remains in the number one spot for the second year in a row for new installations, installing a record 2.4 GW, followed by the UK at 1.8 GW and Germany at 1.1 GW.

While Europe continues to be the leading region for offshore wind, countries in the Asia-Pacific region, such as Taiwan, Vietnam, Japan, and South Korea, as well as the US market are quickly picking up the pace and will be regions of significant growth in the next decade.

Feng Zhao, GWEC Strategy Director said the industry’s outlook was “promising” and that innovations will open “new doors”.

“Offshore wind has already proven itself as an affordable, scalable, zero-carbon technology, and maximising the growth potential of the industry has depended on collaborative action between governments and industry for market design, to set clear capacity targets, undertake forward-looking planning for infrastructure development and workforce requirements,” he said.

“There are plenty of lessons we can take from the last 30 years of offshore wind development in Europe to ensure the long-term success and growth of the industry in new markets around the globe, as we are only beginning to unlock the full clean energy potential of offshore wind.”

The global offshore market has grown on average by 24 per cent each year since 2013.

(Global Wind Energy Council)

Europe remains the largest market for offshore wind as of the end of 2019, making up 75 per cent of total global installations.

Estimates claim that Europe will continue to be a leader in offshore wind, with an ambitious 450 GW goal by 2050 driven by installations in the UK, Netherlands, France, Germany, Denmark and Poland, with several other EU markets posting double-digit volumes.

North America currently has just 30 MW of offshore wind capacity in operation at the end of 2019, but deployment will accelerate in the coming years with 23 GW forecasted to be installed by 2030.

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