Capturing the promise of offshore wind

Emerging offshore markets can learn from Europe's success and use it in a domestic context 

By Joyce Lee
Published: Friday 15 November 2019
An offshore wind farm. Photo: Getty Images

The global offshore market has grown by an average of 21 per cent each year since 2013. This growth has been driven by the offshore wind development in the UK, Germany and Denmark but now the industry is becoming global and Asia is primed to become the largest growth region for offshore wind over the next decade.

The global industry is expected to show a double-digit growth through 2030, when total installed capacity will reach nearly 190 GW.

To ensure that developing markets can capture the promise of offshore wind, policymakers should have a comprehensive understanding of the national offshore wind resource, including mapping and calculations of local wind climates. Governments need a long-term policy view of renewable energy targets and forecasted power demand.

Leading offshore wind markets have established mechanisms for stabilising income. Once there is access to a sustainable supply chain and sufficient competition, the requirement for public subsidy shrinks and these markets have very successfully moved to auctions.

Offshore wind offers immense potential to support a country’s energy demands and decarbonisation. For emerging offshore markets, there are many useful lessons from those at the front of the pack, which can be harmonised within a domestic context.

A 10-year forward policy, including targeted capacity, provides the industry with sufficient time to establish project pipelines and make necessary investments. The UK’s Sector Deal targeting 30 GW of offshore wind by 2030, to supply 33 per cent of British electricity, is one example of an ambitious policy framework.

Source: International Renewable Energy Agency
A successful offshore sector requires a sizable industrial ecosystem and strong stakeholder engagement. Collaboration between government and regional industry is needed to build the capacity for an offshore wind supply chain, which can yield large-scale returns and job creation.

Stakeholder management of four key groups — the military, vessel operators, fisheries and coastal towns/public — is also vital to obtaining permits.

Clear and simple regulation and permitting processes are critical to ensuring project life cycles are expeditious and predictable. There should be transparent rules for procurement, and a simplified process for permitting and site development.

The US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has, for example, made great strides in reducing regulatory burdens, ensuring timely planning reviews and injecting certainty into the process of project development.

The author is policy and operations director, Global Wind Energy Council

This was first published in Down To Earth's print edition dated 1-15 November, 2019

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