Over the last year, there has been a notable increase in policy development aimed at bolstering offshore wind energy, with auctions escalating since COP27. The major inflection point has been China overtaking the birthplace of offshore wind – Europe – in total operational capacity. Despite China's growth, Europe's North Sea regions, including the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, and Denmark, have maintained their growth trajectories, with heightened targets and significant auctions.
Early-stage project development increased 34% from markets all around the world. Emerging frameworks in the Mediterranean and Baltic Seas in Europe, and new markets from Australia to Brazil and the Philippines outside of Europe have shown considerable portfolio growth.
Developers remain keen to continue their long-term growth plans despite the current 40% cost increase from interest rate hikes, inflation, and supply chain issues. Disruption has mostly affected medium term projects due to be constructed before the end of the decade. Examples include in the UK where no capacity in the Annual Allocation Round (AR5) was awarded a route to market, in the US, where multiple offtake contracts are being re-negotiated and terminated, and in Poland, where developers are delaying project FIDs.
Despite this growth, offshore wind deployment is far behind the capacity calculated to reach net-zero. With the total amount of global operational offshore wind capacity projected to be up to 250 GW by 2030, this is inadequate to meet IRENA's almost 500 GW by 2030 recommendation for net-zero scenarios.
With proven technology, investor interest, and a substantial project pipeline, the foundations for offshore wind expansion are set. Yet, critical challenges persist, such as permitting, grid integration, supply chain issues, and financial support.
Tackling these obstacles requires urgent collaborative efforts from governments, industry, and civil society. There are various policy mechanisms at our disposal today that could mitigate these issues. By adopting best practices from global leaders in offshore wind, we can bridge the gap and ensure that offshore wind plays a pivotal role in combating climate change.