With the world moving away from fossil fuels such as oil and gas, interest in wind energy in general and in offshore wind energy, in Europe and the rest of the world, in particular has considerably increased. Interest in offshore wind is part of a broader movement to increase the share of renewable energy in the energy mix and to reduce gas emissions. What are these new offshore wind developments outside Europe? What are the main issues to be solved?
The offshore wind industry was until now dominated by European countries. The UK and Germany have installed a fair amount of offshore wind capacity, with respectively more than 8GW and more than 6GW. Installed capacity outside Europe has been limited to China (more than 5GW installed), with only small developments in other countries such as Vietnam, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and the US.
As of 2019, there is one offshore windfarm commercially operational in the US, namely the 30MW Block Island Windfarm off the coast of Rhode Island. State policies of, for instance, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New York are important drivers for future offshore wind development in the US. Despite President Trump, these so-called blue states have a green agenda and are able to execute them. Furthermore, the development of a supply chain in the US will be very important.
The Department of Energy has calculated that with the right policy and supply chain, the US could install a total of 22GW of offshore wind projects by 2030. Important stakeholders are governmental institutions, research institutions, trade associations, and developers.
China is rapidly moving towards renewable energy and is expected to continue this growth in the upcoming years. In this respect, China is one of the world’s fastest growing offshore wind markets. Several targets for renewable energy deployment until 2020 were established in China’s 13th renewable energy development five year plan (2016 – 2020). Key objectives of this plan include:
According to the National Energy Administration, China plans to install 30GW of offshore wind power capacity by 2020. An example of a development area is the Jiangsu province, where offshore wind projects totalling more than 6GW will be realised in the coming years. China has its own companies focused on offshore wind, such as turbine manufactures, but international organisations have also shown interest in offshore wind development in China.
Important prerequisites for new offshore wind developments are cost reductions in both construction, operations, and maintenance phases of an offshore windfarm. This can be realised by:
Offshore wind outside Europe will likely continue and become more mature in the upcoming years. Lessons will be learned from European offshore wind development, and developments will probably take place faster.