Climate Change

Offshore wind can yield twin benefits of GHG reduction, return on investments: Report

Offshore wind energy generation estimated to increase between 650 and 3,500 terawatt hours every year by 2050

By Madhumita Paul
Published: Wednesday 29 July 2020
Every $1 invested in scaling up global offshore wind production generates a $2-17 benefit. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Offshore wind energy generation can not just reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, but also increase return on investment (RoI) made to scale up these technologies, said a July 24, 2020 report by the World Resources Institute.

It pointed out a reduction of 0.3-1.61 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide every year by 2050 if offshore wind energy generation is scaled up.

Every $1 invested in increasing production capacities can generate a $2-17 benefit on RoI, the report said. This, however, was dependent on the cost of offshore energy production and transmission.

Improvement in these technologies and efforts to reduce integration costs can increase the RoI, said the report, the first such attempt to analyse global net benefit and the benefit-cost ratio to implement ocean-based interventions between 2020 and 2050.

The total discounted health benefits by transitioning to offshore renewable energy were pegged between $0.15 trillion and $4.4 trillion by 2020–50, according to the report. Researchers arrived at this estimate by multiplying the annual CO2 equivalent emissions mitigation potential by the marginal co-benefits of avoided mortality.

Water consumption for offshore wind energy generation was said to be between 860 and 1,315 gallons per megawatt-hour under the baseline. The benefits of achieving offshore energy transformation through water savings alone can be between $1.3 billion and $1.4 trillion over 2020-50, as wind systems need near-zero water for energy generation and cooling, the report pointed out.

Better awareness of evidence of potential RoI can help strengthen the economic case for action taken to increase offshore wind energy capacities, the report said.

An increase in offshore wind energy generation — between 650 and 3,500 terawatt hours (TWh) every year by 2050 — was also estimated to take place.

This estimate is a significant jump from the 77 TWh per year in 2018, according to the report. The total global capacity of wind energy was 564 GW in 2018, while offshore wind energy accounted for 23 GW.

Most offshore installations are currently in Europe, but a significant increase was expected in Asia, especially in China.

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