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Offshore wind power will expand dramatically over the next two decades, multiplying by 15 by 2040 to reach a minimum of 345 gigawatts (GW) of installed capacity and attracting a cumulative investment of $ 1 trillion, according to the Offshore Wind Outlook report 2019 of the International Energy Agency (IEA), published on Friday. The report is an excerpt from the World Energy Outlook 2019, which will be published in full on November 13 (Energías Renovables.com).
Offshore Wind Outlook 2019 offers a deep vision of a technology that today has a total capacity of 23 GW (80% of it in Europe) and represents only 0.3% of the world’s electricity generation, but which has the potential to become a pillar of global energy supply. The report provides the most complete analysis to date of the global perspectives of offshore wind energy, its contributions to electrical systems and its role in the transition to clean energy.
The IEA explains in the study that the reduction in the costs of this technology, government support policies and some notable technological advances, such as larger turbines and floating foundations, are behind the momentum that offshore wind is charging, for the which predicts an installed capacity around 345 GW in 2040. But it could go much further. According to the international organization, with greater support from policy makers, offshore wind could grow much stronger.
Europe has been a pioneer in this technology and will continue to be the engine of its future development. At present, the marine wind capacity of the European Union is almost 20 GW and with current policies, this figure will increase to almost 130 gigawatts by 2040. However, if the European Union manages to achieve its carbon neutrality targets , offshore wind capacity would increase further, reaching about 180 gigawatts in 2040 and would become the largest source of electricity in the region. An even more ambitious vision, in which policies will drive a large increase in the demand for clean hydrogen produced with wind turbines at sea, could make European offshore wind capacity increase even more.
China is also called to play a role in determining the long-term growth of offshore wind power, especially because of its need to reduce air pollution. The IEA explains that this technology is particularly attractive in China because offshore wind farms can be built near the main population centers in the east and south of the country. By 2025, the Asian country is likely to have the largest network of offshore wind farms in the world, beating the United Kingdom. The Agency’s forecast is that China, which now has 4 GW offshore wind, has 110 GW by 2040, although the figure could exceed 170 GW with the government policies being designed.
The United States has good offshore wind resources in the northeast of the country and near the densely populated demand centers along the east coast, which offers offshore wind a way to help diversify the country’s energy mix, as noted by the IEA. Floating parks would expand the possibilities of harnessing the west coast’s wind resources, according to the report.
The director of the Agency, Fathi Birol, who presented the report in Copenhagen (cradle of offshore wind) together with the Danish Minister of Climate, Energy and Public Services, Dan Jørgensen, has stressed that the great promise of wind energy Marine is underlined, precisely, by the development of floating turbines that could be deployed further into the sea. In theory, these facilities could allow offshore wind power to meet the entire electricity demand of several key electrical markets several times, including Europe, the United States and Japan.
Barriers to overcome
“Marine wind power currently provides only 0.3% of world energy production, but its potential is enormous,” Birol said, adding that although that potential is within our reach, “there is still a lot of work to do on the part of governments and industry to become a pillar of clean energy transitions.
In this regard, the report emphasizes that governments and regulators can clear the way by providing a long-term vision that encourages industry and investors to make the main investments necessary to develop offshore wind projects and link them to energy networks in land. This includes careful market design, ensuring attractive financing and regulations that recognize that the development of the land network infrastructure is essential for the efficient integration of energy production from offshore wind power.
The industry, on the other hand, needs to continue with its rapid technological development so that wind turbines continue to grow in size and power, which in turn provides greater performance and cost reduction, which makes marine wind energy more and more competitive
In addition, according to the report, there are huge opportunities for collaboration between companies in the oil and gas sector and offshore wind. It is estimated that 40% of the lifetime costs of a offshore wind project, including construction and maintenance, have significant synergies with these two sectors, which translates into a market opportunity of $ 400 billion or more in Europe and China over the next two decades, according to the IEA.
30% annual growth between 2010 and 2018
The global offshore wind market grew almost 30% a year between 2010 and 2018, benefiting from rapid technological improvements. Over the next five years, around 150 new offshore wind projects are planned to be completed worldwide, confirming the growing role of this technology in energy supply. The United Kingdom and Germany currently have the largest capacity in operation, while Denmark produced 15% of its electricity from this technology in 2018, although the country that added more power last year was China.
The report concludes that offshore wind, whose costs will continue to fall, will be competitive with fossil fuels in the next decade, as well as with other renewable energies, including photovoltaic solar. The levelized cost of electricity produced by offshore wind energy is expected to decrease by almost 60% by 2040.
To conduct the study, the IEA has relied on geospatial data in order to assess the technical potential of marine wind energy country by country and global meteorological data on wind speed and quality, taking into account the most recent designs of the turbines. The results are that the technical potential of offshore wind energy is 36,000 TWh per year for installations in waters less than 60 meters deep and less than 60 km from the coast. The global demand for electricity is currently 23,000 TWh. By moving further away from the coast and entering deeper waters, floating turbines could multiply the generation potential with this technology 11 times by 2040.
Source: Mundo Acuicola