The offshore wind industry’s economic potential has often been considered just out of sight on the horizon, much like how operational turbines themselves appear from coastlines. But the fledgling offshore wind industry is finally reaching maturity, promising gigawatts of clean energy and billions in economic opportunity.
While solar photovoltaics and onshore wind have experienced dramatic cost declines and capacity additions, offshore wind has remained more of a boutique resource with just 14 gigawatts (GW) of installed capacity – great in theory, but prohibitively expensive and concentrated in a few regions of the world.
That’s changing rapidly: Bloomberg New Energy Finance forecasts global offshore wind installations will triple to 39.7 GW by 2020 and the governments of Germany, Denmark and Belgium have pledged to add 60 GW of new capacity in the next decade. This growth is occurring worldwide, and is driven by three factors: proximity to coastal cities, advancing technology, and declining prices.