With more than 70% of our planet covered by water, offshore wind energy has the potential to become a mainstay of the world’s power supply.

Fossil fuels are still prevalent at the moment

In 2018, global energy-related CO2 emissions reached a historical high of 33.1 Gt CO2
(a rise of 1.7% over 2017). Fossil fuels still accounted for nearly two thirds of global electricity generation (roughly the same share as twenty years ago)

The de-carbonisation of global economies and tackling air pollution are international goals. The need for clean and affordable low-carbon technologies to produce electricity instead of from fossil fuels is now more pressing than ever if not long overdue.

The huge potential of wind energy

Harvesting wind energy can have a major impact in a rapid clean energy transition. Around the world, wind-generation capacity installed both onshore and offshore has increased in the past two decades, increasing rapidly from 7.5GW in 1997 to 564GW by 2018.

Offshore wind

Offshore wind farms can be more efficient and have higher capacity factors than
onshore ones, due to higher and more consistent wind speeds.

In 2018, offshore wind had a total capacity of 23GW with approximately 80% of it installed in Europe. However this still accounts for only 0.3% of global electricity generation. 

The global offshore wind market grew nearly 30% per year between 2010 and 2018.
In 2018, a total of 4.3GW of new offshore wind capacity was installed. By mid-2019,
there were over 5,500 offshore turbines connected to a grid in 17 countries.

The floating turbine solution.

Floating turbines could meet the world’s electricity demand more than 11 times over by 2040. At present we believe there are currently:

  • 55MW of prototypes installed,
  • 50 MW in construction and
  • 126 MW worth of contracts awarded.

These projects with three or more turbines can double the current capacity of floating offshore wind generation and are expected to increase capacity almost five-fold by 2023, but still only are a tiny faction of what is needed.

Update 21/10/2020

The Prime Minister stated this week that he  wanted the country to become the “world leader in low-cost clean power generation.” stressing the importance of renewable energy sources, especially offshore wind.

“We believe that in ten years’ time, offshore wind will be powering every home in the country, with our target rising from 30 gigawatts to 40 gigawatts.”

“As Saudi Arabia is to oil, the U.K. is to wind — a place of almost limitless resource but, in the case of wind, without the carbon emissions, without the damage to the environment.” 

Acknowledgments

  • Offshore Wind Outlook 2019 – IEA
  • The EU Blue economy report 2020 – European Commission
  • Future of wind – IRENA 

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