Offshore wind

Tracking Clean Energy Progress

🕐 Last updated Wednesday, 23 May 2018

More efforts needed

Offshore wind showed strong signs of progress with 23% generation growth in 2017, but it needs to accelerate even faster to be in line with SDS target.


Offshore wind power generation

Historical development and targets

	Historical	Forecast	SDS Targets
2000	0.114542		
2001	0.193162		
2002	0.360165		
2003	1.302572		
2004	1.928948		
2005	2.406916		
2006	2.907392		
2007	3.856128		
2008	4.999059		
2009	4.993894		
2010	7.731891		
2011	11.77503		
2012	14.82129		
2013	20.84657		
2014	25.14013		
2015	38.98993		
2016	41.86629		
2017	51.38872		
2018		62.66337	
2019		76.33361	
2020		92.43994	
2021		108.9667	
2022		128.6340728	
2025			274.1494155
2030			548.5579267
      
        {
          "chart": {
            "type": "column",
            "height": "50%"
          },
          "plotOptions": {
            "column": {
              "stacking": "normal",
              "tooltip": { "valueSuffix": " TWh", "valueDecimals": 0 }
            }
          },
          "yAxis": {
            "title": { "text": "Generation (TWh)" }
          },
          "series": [
            { "color": "#4190b2" },
            { "color": "#42c577" },
            { "color": "#ff7656" }
          ]
        }
      

Grid-connected offshore wind capacity additions reached almost 4 GW in 2017, led by China, Germany and the United Kingdom. Over the last year, the largest offshore wind farm in the world, Walney Extension (660 MW) was fully commissioned in the United Kingdom.

Offshore wind investment rose to record levels, at over USD 15 billion, as a result of the strong expansion in Europe and China.


Tracking progress

Offshore wind is not fully on track with the SDS target, but recent technology, cost and market trends indicate progress.

In the European Union, auction results indicate that cost reductions of 30% to 50% are considered possible over the medium term. Larger turbines reduce construction costs, and larger projects bring economies of scale, standardisation and clustering.

Beyond 2020, accelerated growth will depend on final approval of the European Union’s 2030 renewable energy targets and their implementation by member states.

In China, deployment has recently picked up and is expected to grow strongly as grid connections and supply chains improve.


Innovation

The IEA’s new Innovation Tracking Framework identifies key long-term “technology innovation gaps” across the energy mix that need to be filled in order to meet long-term clean energy transition goals. Each innovation gap highlights where R&D investment and other efforts need improvement.

Explore the technology innovation gaps identified for offshore wind below:

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

As turbine costs drop in the SDS, interconnection and balance-of-system take up a higher share of overall installation costs. Learning on design concepts as well as fundamental technology improvements to power engineering equipment will be necessary.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

DC infrastructure; high voltage interconnections, array interconnection, streamlined cable layouts.

Key initiatives

US DoE FOAs for offshore wind have components of grid integration innovation.

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

Soft costs for offshore wind take up a substantial share of total installed costs, and together with interconnection they are a key challenge for reaching SDS cost goals.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Pre-commissioning of onshore wind turbines, concepts for integrating structure components.

Key initiatives

A number of simulation projects in place aside from commercial opportunities, including the Far and Large Offshore Wind Programme at ECN in the Netherlands. The European Wind Energy Technology Platform, as well as the Offshore Wind Cost Reduction Task Force both have initiatives in place to accelerate installation processes. The UK Offshore Wind Catapult is a leading example of tools to accelerate deployment.

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

High throughput manufacturing and standardised designs of floating structures could lower costs in the mid- to long-term. Around a third of the long-term economic potential in the SDS is at depths higher than 50m.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Overall testing of floating designs. The variety of designs at the moment precludes recommendation of specific research areas.

Key initiatives

  • Floating Hywind wind farm in Scotland, 30 MW in place.
  • Macquarie/Ideol's first floating wind farm in Japan.
  • Floating wind foundations included in USD offshore wind R&D consortium (USD 18.5 million).
  • Glosten tension-leg platform and Principle Power semi-submersible concepts.

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

Large rotor diameters and higher hub heights have higher upfront and per unit power costs but increase production and decrease costs per unit energy while making better use of the resource and decreasing variability of output.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Fundamental improvements to turbine blade design and manufacturing, as well as materials and construction.

Key initiatives

  • UK Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult provides a platform for testing, grid emulation and KTT.
  • GE's Haliade-X programme aims to develop 12 MW turbines by 2023.
  • US Wind Energy Technology Office/EERE allocating 18.5 million to overall cost reductions of offshore wind.

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

Wind farm planning, both onshore and offshore, will require enhanced sensitivity assessment of the surrounding environment to ensure long term turbine efficiency and attractive return on investment.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

  • Improve the accuracy of offshore pre-construction planning to accommodate seasonal and yearly variations/changes in the wind resource.
  • Refinement and validation of model outputs against measured data.

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

Wind farms need to ensure their value to the system is maintained with the high penetration levels in the SDS.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Enhance short-term forecasts to facilitate the integration of higher volumes. Innovate big-data analytics from plant-level measurements, including neural network/AI controls. Component 3D printing and hybrid materials for wind towers potentially highly disruptive.

Key initiatives

  • Nearly 600m USD total funding globally for wind turbine technology improvements.
  • Initiatives on blade segmentation and turbine erection.

Explore all 100+ innovation gaps across 38 key technologies and sectors here.