New era for offshore wind threatened by supply chain woes

GWEC report offshore wind
Image credit: Global Wind Energy Council

As governments seek to increase energy security, affordability, net-zero, and improve energy security, the offshore wind industry will experience a period of rapid growth. However, supply chain constraints must be urgently addressed to ensure governments don’t miss out on the opportunities presented by the burgeoning sector.

These are the key findings of the Global Wind Energy Council’s (GWEC) latest report, which was released at the United Nations Ocean Conference in Lisbon.

According to the report, 21.1GW new offshore wind power was connected to the grid by 2021. As governments set higher net-zero targets and more record-breaking years are possible starting in 2025.

GWEC’s outlook suggests that 260GW of new offshore wind capacity could be added in 2022-2030, bringing total global offshore wind installations to 316GW by the end of this decade.

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However, in order to maximize the opportunities presented by offshore wind, a “well-functioning global supply chain that is able to scale up rapidly over the next decade to meet growth” is essential, according to the report.

Supply chain security is being threatened by inflation, commodity and logistics cost, as well uneven demand growth. These issues must be addressed.

To mitigate some industry threats, the report calls for public-private cooperation, simplified licensing processes, efficient procurement schemes, sustainable pricing mechanisms, and streamlined licensing procedures.

Ulrik Stridbæk, vice president, head of regulatory affairs, Ørsted, stated: “The global offshore wind industry is at a critical inflection point. On the one hand, political ambitions are increasing exponentially. However, the industry is also facing rising costs and disruptions in supply chains that are jeopardizing its ability to achieve these long-term goals.

“GWEC’s Global Offshore Wind Report is a crucial moment to take stock and convene the industry to discuss how to overcome these challenges and unlock the investments needed for offshore wind to play its part in keeping 1.5 degrees alive.”

Key findings of the report

  • China contributed 80% of the new offshore installations for 2021, which was the leading offshore wind country for the fourth consecutive year.
  • By the end of 2022 Asia will replace Europe as the world’s largest offshore market
  • The annual volume of offshore wind installations is expected more than to double from 21.1GW to 54.9GW in 2021 to 2031
  • Floating offshore wind has now entered the pre-commercial stage after passing the demonstration stage
  • Due to the energy crisis and Russian invasion of Ukraine, governments have increased their offshore wind targets.

Ben Backwell, GWEC CEO said in a statement: “It has been an astonishing year for the offshore wind sector. All governments around the globe are now realizing the unique opportunity that offshore wind presents to deliver clean, secure energy and foster industrial development.

“Now we need to work to rapidly implement targets and ambitions, while building a healthy and ‘fit for growth’ global supply chain.”

Original publication by Pamela Largue, Power Engineering International