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New GWEC report identifies floating offshore wind’s role in global decarbonisation efforts

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The Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) has today published Floating Offshore Wind – a Global Opportunity, a report setting out the clear opportunity floating offshore wind presents for countries across the globe.
New GWEC report identifies floating offshore wind’s role in global decarbonisation efforts
Floating wind turbine off the coast of Portugal. Courtesy of NREL.

The report sets out the enormous role floating offshore wind could have in the world’s drive, over the next decade, to reduce reliance on fossil fuels such as gas, coal and oil. The technology is central to global ambitions to reach Net Zero by 2050.

The report focuses on five countries – Ireland, Italy, Morocco, Philippines and USA – which all have significant floating wind potential.

These five countries are termed the ‘chasing pack’, and together with the most mature floating markets - UK, South Korea, France and Japan - could spearhead the next wave of floating wind. The global race to develop this technology is already underway, and these countries can catch up to the current market leaders, if they put in place the right policy now.

The report, from research and analytics company Aegir Insights, shows the critical role of political leadership in kick-starting floating offshore wind markets. The market is nascent, but could be huge: 80 percent of the world’s offshore wind resource potential lies in waters deeper than 60 metres.

For many countries, the technical potential for floating offshore wind dwarfs that of fixed-bottom turbines. If offshore wind is to ramp up its contribution to net zero, rapid deployment of floating wind farms will be needed. This requires political leadership and support to make a reality.

The report: A set of criteria to assess market potential and readiness across over 100 countries was developed. From this longlist an initial shortlist of 30 countries was identified which all had strong potential. A final five were identified and market snapshots produced.

These snapshots provide information on market conditions and help chart a pathway to the successful growth of floating offshore wind.

Floating offshore wind is now at the start of its commercialisation. Success in the countries engaged in floating offshore wind already will see rapid cost reduction, meaning that floating offshore wind will be in reach of a second generation of countries.

“Floating offshore wind is at an exciting point in its journey” said Henrik Stiesdal, Chair of GWEC’s Floating Offshore Wind Task Force. “Having proven the technology, we need to accelerate delivery, and this means working with countries new to offshore wind. Floating offshore wind can bring low carbon electricity and economic opportunities. This report identifies five countries around the globe that could move rapidly to become floating offshore wind leaders. But it also shows that with the right policies floating offshore wind can have lift-off in many countries across the globe.”

Ben Backwell, GWEC CEO, added that offshore wind is a vital tool in global action to decarbonise and that while the focus of this decade is rapid growth of fixed offshore wind, we also need to see political leadership so that large scale floating offshore wind is ready to play its part in the 2030s and beyond.

“As countries look to grow their renewable capacity in order to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels, it is crucial that embracing new technologies is part of their roadmap” Mr Backwell said. “This is key to ensuring the potential for renewable energy is fully exploited. This important report highlights the conditions that are needed and how GWEC can support these countries to grow and become floating offshore wind leaders.”

The five countries profiled have a combined floating offshore wind technical potential of 3861GW, equivalent to between 2.6 times - for Italy - and an astonishing 69 times - for Ireland - their current electricity demand.”

Ireland's highly ambitious government plans, coupled with favourable site conditions make for an attractive floating offshore wind market, provided that the transmission grid and port infrastructure is upgraded.

Italy, a commitment to net zero is driving the growth of wind power. A lack of space on land and the absence of sites suitable for fixed-bottom wind will drive a focus onto floating offshore wind.

Morocco, a great wind resource, a lack of access to fixed offshore wind, coupled with Government desire to meet green goals and increase energy security, mean high interest in floating offshore wind.

The Philippines, high economic growth is driving increased electricity demand. Floating offshore wind sites with good resources are located close to load centres and the Government has an ambitious agenda. However, tariffs and infrastructure could pose challenges.

USA (Pacific), lack of access to fixed offshore wind sites, coupled with high ambition from the state and federal governments all point to rapid growth of floating offshore wind. However, major grid investment will be required to support connection. 

GWEC is also working with members and stakeholders to run a series of on-line workshops that build on the report. These workshops will focus on different regions around the world and highlight activities in critical emerging and future floating offshore wind markets.

For additional information:

Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC)

Global Wind Energy Council full report

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