Currently, a minor proportion (just 0.3%) of global power generation is produced by offshore wind. However, experts suggest that offshore wind has made immense progress during the last years and is about to become a $1 trillion business by attracting funds within the next decades.
A report from IEA shows that as technological means improve and costs reduce (a 40% drop is anticipated by 2030), wind power will probably be competitive with fossil fuel energy in the forthcoming years joining solar power and shale fracking technologies that have recently experienced a remarkable development.
“It has the potential to be a major game-changer. Looking at the future of offshore wind it has the potential to join the ranks of shale (fracking to exploit natural gas resources) and solar photovoltaics in terms of steep cost reductions,” Fatih Birol, executive director of the IEA, stated.
Two fundamental technological features will highly boost the potential of offshore wind:
- Floating platforms that will significantly reduce the challenges of deep-sea foundation allowing the establishment of wind turbine groups further into the sea, and
- Largest wind turbines capable of producing more amount of power.
Analyses show that if wind power farms are established in essential sites, the total amount of electricity demand in 2040 will be supplied. Moreover, research suggests that if the total wind power capacity was exploited, the generated power would provide 18 times more energy than the current demand. However, certain problems concerning storing and transmitting this power would emerge. “With high-quality resources available in most major markets, offshore wind has the potential to generate more than 420,000 terawatt-hours per year worldwide. This is more than 18 times global electricity demand today,” the report states.
Except for the fact that wind power is growing into a financially viable solution, it also satisfies the demand for clean energy. Its development will highly reduce humanity's reliance on fossil fuels reducing the total carbon emissions. Moreover, surplus power generated could be utilized to produce hydrogen (in a procedure that water splits into its atomic ingredients, hydrogen and oxygen) which would also be used as an energy resource both in structural and transportation industry.
Currently, the United Kingdom and China are pioneers in offshore wind and produce the most energy worldwide. “By around 2025, China is likely to have the largest offshore wind fleet of any country, overtaking the United Kingdom. China’s offshore wind capacity is set to rise from 4 gigawatts today to 110 gigawatts by 2040. Policies designed to meet global sustainable energy goals could push that even higher to above 170 gigawatts.” IEA stated.