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IRENA sees great potential for offshore wind

IRENA says that if growth trends continue along with more enabling regulatory environments and standardisation offshore wind will be key for global efforts to decarbonise the energy sector and meet climate objectives

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IRENA director general Adnan Z Amin underlined the potential of offshore wind to meet energy demand, stimulate economic growth and generate employment
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IRENA director general Adnan Z Amin underlined the potential of offshore wind to meet energy demand, stimulate economic growth and generate employment

Offshore wind energy is in the fast lane and picking up speed. Driven by rapidly falling costs and technological innovation, offshore wind capacity grew by 25% between 2016 and 2017, the director general of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) told a summit at the G7 meeting.

Speaking at the Oceans Partnership Summit during G7, IRENA director general Adnan Z Amin underlined the potential of offshore wind to meet energy demand, stimulate economic growth and generate employment – criteria that he described as hallmarks of the global energy transformation.

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Compared to other renewable energy technologies, offshore wind still makes up a small part of global power generation. Today, there is slightly less than 19 GW of installed offshore capacity, two-thirds of which is generated by G7 countries, but the global growth trend is impressive, said IRENA as reported by offshore Wind Journal.

“Costs have been falling rapidly and are expected to decline by a further 30% by 2030, leading to an expected growth in installed capacity to 128 GW by 2030 and 521 GW by 2050. Investment in offshore wind could reach US$350Bn by 2030 and potentially US$1.47Tn by 2050.”

IRENA’s director general said “Offshore power has wind in its sails as it has now developed into a commercially mature technology. If growth trends continue along with more enabling regulatory environments and standardisation it will be key for global efforts to decarbonise the energy sector and meet climate objectives. G7 countries have an opportunity to demonstrate leadership by further accelerating the development of offshore renewables, while reaping its socio-economic benefits.”

As he noted, prices awarded in auctions in 2016 and 2017 for projects that will come online by 2020-2022 range from US$0.06 to US$0.10 per kilowatt hour. This steep decline in costs is driven by lower capital costs, technological innovations, and economies of scale. In G7 countries, auctions have become the policy instrument of choice for deploying offshore wind, and the numbers suggest this is also contributing to declining costs.

“Overall, accelerating the deployment of renewable energy would significantly stimulate economic activity additional to the growth that could be expected under a business as usual approach,” he said.

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