Europe is the definitive leader in offshore wind. Whilst other regions start developing offshore sites, Europe has had wind steel in the water for over two decades, and has been growing at gigawatt levels in additional annual capacity since 2012. Described by the European Commission in 2008 as 'the energy of the future', the industry response and the resulting growth is helping to ensure European energy security and a transition into a low carbon economy.
- 8 GW of total offshore capacity in 2014, with a CAGR of 31.2% from 2009-2014
- 12.8% of Europe's annual wind energy installations were made offshore
- 1,483 MW connected in 2014, with another 2,900MW of capacity awaiting connection
- 368 MW: The average size of grid connected projects in 2014
- 26.4GW of consented offshore wind farms identified, with a further 98GW of planned offshore wind farms in the pipeline.
The offshore wind sector brings considerable economic opportunities. The offshore industry contributes to Europe's competitiveness and leadership in wind energy, provides employment in the EU, reduces Europe's import dependence and reinforces its security of supply.
- Around €4.2bn to €5.9bn annual investment
- 75,000 FTE (2014)
- 178,000 FTE in 2030 (75% of wind employment)
Offshore wind is an increasingly competitive power source
Advances in technology and industry maturity will make offshore wind an increasingly attractive investment. Bigger turbines utilising cutting-edge technology will increase yields and cut costs by as much as 17% by 2020 (Crown Estate), and a 39% reduction in costs could be achieved by 2023 (Stiftung) in an optimum regulatory and competitive market. Industry work groups such as LEANWIND, which is comprised of 31 members across industry and academics, work together to reduce costs within the offshore lifecycle.
- Where's the money coming from? Financing offshore wind farms, EWEA (2013)
- Deep Water – The next step for offshore wind energy, EWEA (2013)
- Wind in our sails – The coming of Europe's offshore wind energy industry, EWEA (2011)
- Cost Reduction Potentials of Offshore Wind Power in Germany, Stiftung Offshore-Windenergie (2013)
- SEANERGY 2020 – Delivering offshore electricity to the EU, SEANERGY (2012)
- Offshore wind cost reduction pathways study, The Crown Estate (2012)
- Action needed to deliver on the Energy Policy Objectives for 2020 and beyond, European Commission (2008)
The offshore grid
Europe's offshore grid should be built to integrate the expected 40GW of offshore wind power by 2020 and 150 GW by 2030. EWEA's proposed offshore grid builds on the 11 offshore grids currently operating and 21 offshore grids currently being considered by the grid operators in the Baltic and North Seas to give Europe a truly pan-European electricity super highway.
A European transnational offshore grid will:
- Provide grid access to offshore wind farms
- Smooth the variability of their output on the markets
- Contribute to the development of a single European electricity market
- Ensure Europe's energy security
- European Commission (2011) - Guideline for trans-European energy infrastructure - Proposals for a regulation
- IEE Project (2011) OffshoreGrid: Offshore Electricity Infrastructure in Europe
- The North Seas Countries' Offshore Grid Initiative - Memorandum of Understanding - (2010)
- EWEA (2009) - 20 Year Offshore Network Development Master Plan
- Stockholm Declaration (2009)
Maritime spatial planning
Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP) is key to enhancing offshore wind development. It provides stability and clarity for the investors and can bring down the costs of wind energy through an optimum integration of the wind farms into the marine environment. EWEA strongly supports the development of an integrated and coordinated Maritime Spatial Planning policy across Europe.
- EWEA Briefing (2012) "Maritime Spatial Planning: supporting offshore wind and grid development"
- IEE Project (2012): SEANERGY 2020
- Commission communication on maritime spatial planning in the EU (2010)
EWEA OFFSHORE 2015 will take place in Copenhagen - home to the world's first ever commercial offshore wind farm and the second largest offshore wind market.