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Offshore wind - from new market to major global growth

May 10, 2021

The first offshore wind turbines appeared off the coast of Denmark in 1991. In the early 2000s, the first offshore wind farm of any scale was created, also off the coast of Denmark. Large-scale offshore wind developments have been taking place since the 2010s. Large-scale offshore wind developments have been taking place since the 2010s, initially in Europe, with markets in Germany and the United Kingdom in particular leading the way. Soon afterwards, markets outside Europe also started to develop strongly. Large-scale offshore wind developments are currently taking place in China in particular.

The offshore wind market is expected to grow strongly in the coming years, from around 29 gigawatts of installed capacity in 2019 to more than 200 gigawatts in 2030 and even around 1,000 gigawatts of installed capacity in 2050. With this, offshore wind is expected to account for almost 20% of the total installed wind capacity.

Offshore wind - from new market to major global growth

Europe remains an important market for offshore wind. The United Kingdom and Germany remain highly relevant, of course, but other countries such as the Netherlands, France and Denmark also have strong ambitions. Besides the fact that Europe remains an important market, it is expected that Asia will eventually become the number one offshore wind market. The previously mentioned China plays an important role in this, but other countries in Asia are also growing strongly. Taiwan, for example, has great growth ambitions, an emerging local infrastructure and strong European partners. In addition, Japan and South Korea have great ambitions and Vietnam and India will also take substantial steps in the medium term.

Although the United States currently has only a small number of megawatts of capacity installed, it is expected that they will become a significant factor in the short to medium term. Offshore wind is one of the components of the efforts of the administration of the American President Biden to ask climate change. It is the US government's intention to double offshore wind production by 2030 compared to earlier ambitions.

Apart from the high growth ambitions of various countries, there are a number of important trends visible in the construction of new offshore wind farms. Firstly, offshore wind farms are being built larger in size and further offshore. The conditions for large-scale offshore wind farms are more favourable here. This is partly due to higher wind speeds. But there is also minimal horizon pollution, which often results in greater support among the local population.

Building further from the coast also means that the parks will be placed in deeper water. This has consequences for the type of foundation. Currently, fixed techniques are mainly used, of which monopiles are the most important. Fixed techniques are suitable for water depths up to approximately 50 meters. For the currently planned installations, we see, in addition to the usual monopiles, a strong emergence of jackets. We also see the emergence of floating installations that can be placed in deeper water. This makes locations with favourable wind conditions but located in deep water, such as off the coast of Japan and South Korea and off the American west coast, attractive for large-scale offshore wind developments. In Europe, France and Norway, among others, have strong ambitions in the field of floating wind.

At the same time, the number of megawatts per wind turbine is rapidly increasing from approximately 2 megawatts per turbine in the initial period to 10-15 megawatts per turbine at present and the potential to grow to more megawatts per turbine. This has consequences for the ships needed to install the turbines. It is expected that from 2025 onwards there will be a lack of sufficient installation vessels to meet the growing demand and increased capacity. This offers opportunities for building new ships, but also for converting ships that have become redundant in other places.

The combination of larger wind farms placed further offshore also requires more effective solutions in the operations & maintenance phase. In recent years we have seen a strong emergence of the so-called Service Operation Vessels with which larger crews can be safely transported and can work offshore.

The offshore wind market, which is growing strongly worldwide, will face various challenges in the coming years, such as expansion and greening of the fleet, expansion into new markets and dealing with local content requirements, possible partnerships and much more. Challenges with which JBR, active for years in this sector, can guide your organization.

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