Energy research and consultancy firm Westwood Global Energy Group predicts that global offshore wind energy capacity will increase fivefold between 2017 and 2025, with almost half of a projected 289 billion euros ($315.7 billion) of global investment directed toward projects in the UK and China. Presenting at the All Energy conference in Glasgow, Westwood’s President of Consulting Andrew Reid said that China is a major growth market in the offshore wind industry. China plans to install 12.7 GW in turbine projects over the next eight years, up from 1GW in 2016, and totaling 53.6 billion euro in investment. “China is still in the early development phases of an offshore wind industry,” Reid said. “China as a territory has significant resource potential, allied with an appetite to progress and have more material impact with their offshore wind market.”
The UK still dominates the sector and is forecast to add 17.7 GW of capacity by 2025 with investment of 81 billion euro. Westwood forecasts a total of 62 gigawatts of global capacity will be added by 2025, an increase of 466 percent, based on planned projects and those already under construction. “The UK has a lot of marine territory, with numerous high quality sites where you can make meaningful contributions,” Reid said. “We’ve underinvested in our energy infrastructure for decades and we’ve got a lot of catching up to do. There’s a huge political drive and support for the [offshore wind] sector.” Over the last three decades, offshore wind energy has become increasingly cost competitive, leading to the current boom in the industry. The larger scale of turbines has driven efficiency. Rotor diameter in 1985 was around 15 meters, generating 0.05 megawatts of power. Current turbines have rotor diameters of up to 164 meters that can generate up to 8 megawatts.
The next generation of 12 to 15 megawatt turbines will stand as tall as the Eiffel Tower, with rotor diameters of over 200 meters. Westwood predicts offshore wind could become more competitive than Combined Cycle Gas Turbines plants by 2020. The industry was heavily subsidized by governments in order to attract investment but subsidies have been reduced.
In Germany, Europe’s second largest offshore wind market, a recent licensing round saw utilities bidding on prospective sites on the basis that they do not need subsidies. “The offshore wind industry is a very real industry today, one which stands on its own two feet” Reid said. “And I spend most of my time in the oil and gas sector. I’m quite surprised how well this industry has done and what it’s shaping up to be.” Earlier this year, the British Chamber of Commerce Shanghai announced plans for an offshore wind hub that will facilitate the entry of specialist UK companies into the Chinese market, with support from British trade association RenewableUK and the UK Department for International Trade.
Maf Smith, deputy chief executive of RenewableUK, said: “China has a very ambitious offshore wind program as part of its overall need to decarbonize and shift to cleaner fuels.”READ MORE