Emerging plays ‘could add 2TW’ to global floating wind fleet

Emerging plays ‘could add 2TW’ to global floating wind fleet

Floating wind power could swiftly take up a leading role in the energy production mix of many national markets, with a new report from the World Bank spotlighting Brazil, India, Morocco, the Philippines, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Turkey and Vietnam as having the potential to add over 2TW in the global fleet in the coming decades.

The report, Going Global: Expanding Offshore Wind in Emerging Markets , which scoped out areas within 200 km (124 miles) of each of the six countries’ coastlines using data from World Bank’s Global Wind Atlas, identified a total offshore resource of 3.1TW to be harnessed, the majority of which was in water depths too deep for conventional bottom-fixed turbines.

“For most of these countries, offshore wind estimates represent a multiple of their currently installed total generation capacity,” said the report authors, noting that some nations, such as India, Sri Lanka and Turkey, had significant bottom-fixed offshore wind potential in shallower waters, while others, including the Philippines and South Africa would be reliant on floating foundations to develop projects in great sea depths, down to 1,000 meters.

“This suggests that offshore wind can play a transformational role in meeting national goals ranging from expanding electricity access to increasing the mix of renewable resources in the energy mix, all while contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals and commitments made under the Paris Agreement.”

The report underlines the economic development potential represented by offshore wind to regions outside the current market-leaders, the UK, Germany and China, with current annual investments of some $26bn – equal to 8% of the worldwide capital spend on clean energy – set to increase dramatically to reach an estimate $700bn a year to underwrite a build-out heading for 190GW in installed capacity by 2030.

“For countries like Vietnam, which currently has an installed capacity of just over 40GW –less than 10% of its 475GW of technical potential for fixed and floating offshore wind energy – this signals a significant opportunity for cost-competitive, large-scale offshore wind projects located close to areas of high energy demand,” said the report authors.

Floating wind power blows into Asia

However, the report also underlines that countries looking to adopt offshore wind as a mainstream energy supply would need to take a “big picture” approach to their grid and port infrastructure development, using “innovative approaches” to financing, setting up stable policy frameworks, and cooperating on sensible supply chain development.

“Further analysis is necessary to develop a complete understanding of potential at the country level, looking at challenges with regards to grid capacity and integration issues, shipping lanes, migratory patterns, impacts on fisheries, and various logistical considerations.

Regional cooperation is seen as being “key” to achieving the greatest economies of scale that could be generated by offshore wind in these six countries, the authors note: “Without regional cooperation, individual governments might be more inclined to attempt to create markets independently, building supply and value chains where they may not make sense.”

The World Bank report follows on from the launch in March of a $5m programme, jointly run with the International Finance Corporation, to fast-track take-up of offshore wind energy in developing countries.

In a report released last week, the International Energy Agency forecast offshore wind power will grow to become a main engine of the transition toward a decarbonised global energy system in the coming decades, with the worldwide fleet expanding 15-fold to reach at least 340GW by 2040.