Offshore wind power has the potential to grow from just 13 gigawatts (GW) in 2015, to 100 GW in 2030, according to new analysis from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). Innovation Outlook: Offshore Wind, launched on Monday (31st October 2016) at the World Wind Energy Conference in Tokyo, provides an overview of the future developments that will drive the offshore wind power boom, including technology advancements and further cost declines.
“Offshore wind power is poised to become a leading power generation technology in a decarbonised global economy” said Adnan Z. Amin, Director-General of IRENA. “Now that onshore wind power is cost-competitive with conventional power generation technologies, more attention is shifting to offshore applications, characterised by high technical power generation potential.”
Stefan Gsaenger, Secretary-General of the World Wind Energy Association, added that the potential for offshore wind is enormous, but to realise it, governments must support technology innovation, and implement mechanisms to reduce technical risk and finance costs. The IRENA report will help to lay the foundation for such action.
Future technological innovations in the offshore wind sector
Technology innovation will be a key driver of the offshore wind boom. The report highlights upcoming innovations that will enable sector development, including next generation wind turbines with larger blades, and floating turbines, which will open up new markets in deeper waters. These advancements, combined with other sector developments, will reduce average costs for electricity generated by offshore wind farms by 57 per cent over time – from $170 per megawatt hour (MWh) in 2015 to $74 per MWh in 2045.
Innovation Outlook: Offshore Wind provides a set of recommendations for the effective implementation of policy mechanisms and incentive programmes that would allow offshore wind technology to realise its potential to decarbonise the energy market. Recommendations include provisioning targeted research and development funding and supporting information sharing and skills development, amongst other measures.
The report is part of the Innovation Outlook series, which highlights innovations and future outlooks for various renewable energy technologies. Innovation Outlooks are also available for mini grids and advanced liquid biofuels.
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