Global Outlook Of Offshore Wind Power Generation

by | Apr 23, 2024 | Renewable Energy, Wind Energy

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Offshore wind power is one of the world’s most underutilized resources, accounting for less than one-tenth of wind power generated offshore. However, the Global Wind Energy Council predicts that by 2023, it will contribute to over a quarter of global wind power. Three countries lead the way: China, the United Kingdom, and Denmark.

Offshore Wind Energy Generation

Wind energy is characterized by the use of airflow to generate mechanical power or electricity, making it a non-polluting renewable resource. A wind farm comprises multiple wind turbines typically placed together to form a single wind power plant. The wind power sector is divided into onshore and offshore wind farms.

Top 5 countries with most offshore wind power generation

Offshore wind, or wind farms located in bodies of water, is said to be steadier and more robust than onshore wind situated on the land. However, it has significantly higher construction and maintenance expenses than the latter. In 2021, offshore wind power installed costs totalled $2,858 per kilowatt. Japan and South Korea had the highest overnight costs for offshore wind projects, at 4,039 and 3,520, respectively.

Global Outlook

Offshore wind power capacity in the global market was 3.1 gigawatts in 2010 and is expected to reach 55.7 gigawatts by 2021. According to recent figures, China and the United Kingdom lead the offshore wind farm business in terms of market share. Offshore wind farms are erected in shallow oceans worldwide, mainly in Europe and Asia. Denmark is home to one of the first offshore wind parks, erected off the Danish coast in the early 1990s, and Vestas, one of the world’s foremost wind energy firms, with a global turnover of 13.6 billion US dollars in 2022.

Country 2021 Capacity (GW)
China 328,970
United States 132,738
Germany 63,760
India 40,070
Spain 27,497

In 2021, 21.11 gigawatts of offshore wind energy capacity were added globally. Global offshore annual capacity increases are expected to range from 9.1 to 54.9 gigawatts between 2022 and 2023, with Europe and China leading the way. Offshore wind will supply a significant amount of the world’s energy demands. Offshore wind’s global levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) has decreased over the previous decade, and technological advances such as more giant turbines and longer blades will assist in fueling its expansion.

As of January 2023, there were 105 wind farms in China. China has the most offshore wind farms, followed by the U.K., Germany, and Vietnam. Higher wind speeds offshore than on land allow for a more excellent electricity supply from offshore wind generation.

Key Highlights

  • Europe: Europe’s total offshore wind capacity exceeds 22 GW, with the UK leading at approximately 10 GW, followed by Germany (nearly 8 GW), and the Netherlands (over 2.5 GW).
  • Asia: China’s installed offshore wind capacity surged to about 10 GW by the end of 2021. The Chinese government has plans to increase this to 26 GW by 2025.
  • United States: The U.S. has over 35 GW of offshore wind projects in the pipeline as of 2021, with the first large-scale project, Vineyard Wind, projected to provide 800 MW.

Global Investments and Technological Innovations

Investment in offshore wind energy is increasing globally, amounting to USD 30 billion in 2020, signalling strong market confidence. Global capacity is expected to grow significantly in the coming decades. The European offshore wind sector alone employed around 210,000 people in 2020, with job creation expected to rise as new projects commence.

Technological advancements, such as larger turbines and floating wind technologies, are unlocking potential in deeper waters that were previously inaccessible. This includes floating wind farms, which are being developed off the coasts of Portugal, Norway, and other countries with deep coastal waters.

Technological Developments

  • The average turbine size for new installations in Europe in 2020 was around 8.2 MW, with larger 10-14 MW models being developed for future projects.
  • Floating offshore wind technology, which allows for installation in deeper waters, is seeing rapid development. The world’s first floating wind farm, Hywind Scotland, has a capacity of 30 MW.

Future Outlook

The future looks promising due to the decreasing cost of technology, improved supply chains, and increasing governmental support through policies that encourage clean energy.

  • The IEA predicts that offshore wind capacity may reach 230 GW by 2040 under current policy settings and over 400 GW with more aggressive climate actions.
  • New markets such as Taiwan, South Korea, and Vietnam are emerging, with ambitious government targets for offshore wind contributing to global growth.

As countries around the world continue to focus on reducing carbon emissions and transitioning to sustainable energy sources, offshore wind is set to play a pivotal role in the global energy landscape. Its capacity to generate large amounts of electricity, combined with a decreasing cost trend and fewer land use conflicts than onshore wind, positions it as a key player in achieving global renewable energy targets.

The top five countries in offshore wind power generation have achieved substantial progress towards renewable energy and climate change mitigation. These countries have proven a significant commitment to utilizing the potential of offshore wind resources to meet their energy needs sustainably. They have established themselves as worldwide leaders in the transition to sustainable energy by investing in infrastructure, technical innovation, and policy assistance. Expanding offshore wind power in these countries not only helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions but also promotes economic development, job creation, and energy security.

Challenges

Despite its potential, offshore wind faces challenges, including high initial capital costs, environmental concerns, and logistical challenges associated with installation and maintenance. However, offshore wind energy costs have decreased by approximately 29% since 2012, making it more competitive with traditional and other renewable energy sources.

Also Read: Wind Power Advantage And Disadvantage: A Comprehensive Analysis

 

Author

  • Michael Thompson

    Michael Thompson is an esteemed expert in the renewable energy sector, with a profound experience spanning over 25 years. His expertise encompasses various sustainable energy solutions, including solar, wind, hydroelectric, and energy efficiency practices. Michael discusses the latest trends in renewable energy and provides practical advice on energy conservation.

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