Renewables

World needs 50 times more offshore wind to become carbon neutral by 2050

World 50 times more offshore wind carbon neutral 2050

Nicholas Doherty on Unsplash

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September 9, 2021

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Published:

September 9, 2021

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Global offshore wind power capacity increased by 6.1 GW last year, slightly less than the record set in 2019, and China accounted for more than 3 GW, GWEC revealed. For the world to become carbon neutral by 2050, total capacity must be 50 times bigger, according to the report.

The Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) said offshore wind capacity reached 35 GW last year, compared to a technical potential of 71 TW. Annual growth was 6.1 GW, just below the record 6.24 GW from 2019, but the organization expects the level to more than double this year, as companies in China rush to install 7.5 GW ahead of the expiry of current feed-in tariffs.

The most populous nation was in the lead for the third year in a row in 2020 as it added over 3 GW in offshore wind, according to the new Global Offshore Wind Report. Most of the remaining capacity was connected to the grid in Europe. The Netherlands was next in the list after China, with almost 1.5 GW, followed by Belgium (706 MW).

Offshore wind makes up 0.5% of world’s power generation capacity

The European Union aims to reach 300 GW in offshore wind by mid-century, but it is also working on measures to limit its environmental impact. GWEC earlier said the overall wind power sector grew to 742.7 GW in 2020.

The report forecasts 235 GW of new offshore wind capacity would be installed over the next decade under current policies or 15% more than what was projected last year. Some countries have already put in place comprehensive offshore wind targets and strategies, and the organization calculated it would lead to 560 GW in new power plants in the sector.

Only 560 GW in new capacity is seen in total projections, compared to 2 TW in overall capacity necessary to reach net zero by mid-century

Based on the scenarios published by the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the world needs 2 TW of offshore wind capacity by 2050 to have a chance of limiting the rise in global temperature to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, GWEC said and noted the existing capacity is only at 2% of the target.

The 35 GW in total offshore wind from 2020 was just 0.5% of all the power plants in the world put together.

UK is number one in floating wind

As of 2020, a total of 73.33 MW net floating wind was installed globally, of which 32 MW is located in the United Kingdom. Portugal is second with 25 MW, after adding 16.8 MW last year. The only other new capacity that was registered in the world was in Spain, just 30 kW. Japan is in third place on a global scale, with 12 MW.

The largest floating wind power plant so far, with 50 MW, was recently completed in the North Sea near the Scottish coast.

Offshore is a natural sector to re-skill workers from sunset fossil fuel industries, while providing the technology to bring new solutions like green hydrogen to the scale needed, but it requires governments to adopt more ambitious targets and clear policies, the report said.

GWEC recommends for workers from the fossil fuel sector to be re-skilled to switch to the offshore industry

World Forum Offshore Wind claimed in August that the global capacity climbed 1.6 GW to just 34.1 GW in the first half of the year.

The allocation of funds for offshore wind power spiked 319% to USD 35 billion in the first half of the year on an annual basis, BloombergNEF (BNEF) found.

In the region tracked by Balkan Green Energy News, Romania, Turkey and Greece are working on solutions for the deployment of offshore wind technology at sea. Saipem from Italy said a year ago it would build a 450 MW facility of the kind in the Adriatic Sea.

In other news, Siemens Gamesa has just produced the world’s first recyclable wind turbine blades for commercial use offshore.

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