Offshore wind power has the capacity to meet all of the world’s electricity demand, and is set to be a “game-changer” for energy systems, according to the International Energy Agency. The Paris-based energy watchdog said that thefalling costs of offshore wind would make it competitive with fossil energy within the next decade, forecasting that the global average cost of power generated by offshore wind would drop 40 per cent by 2030.”Ithasthepotential to be a major game-changer,” said Fatih Birol, executive director of the IEA. He compared it to the two significant power trends of the past decade: the advent of fracking in shale formations – which enabled cheap natural gas, and the explosive growth in solar. “Looking at the future of offshore wind … it has the potential to join the ranks of shale [gas] and solar photovoltaics in terms of steep cost reductions,” said Mr Birol.
The landmark report by the IEA is the first time that the oil watchdog, whose research informs many governments’ energy policy, has conducted such an in depth examination of offshore wind.
Forecast total investment in offshore wind over the next two decades It also comes at a time when a growing number of countries, including France and the UK, are working to slash greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2050, agoal that will require huge investment in renewable energy as well as economic restructuring. Although offshore wind accounts for just 0.3 percent of global power supply today, the IEA forecasts that by 2040 it could be the single biggest source of power generation in Europe.
One reason for that growth is that offshore wind yields a higher power production and has less variable output than onshore wind and solar, which makes it more similar to a “baseload” power source. The IEA forecasts that annual new installations of offshore wind will double over the next five years, and grow fivefold by 2030.