The global offshore wind industry marked one of the best years for new capacity in 2022, and the space is expected to see massive growth over the next several years. However, to achieve the forecaster’s sunny predictions, governments around the world will need to work together and overcome current economic headwinds and policy problems.
After delivering 8.8 gigawatts of new clean energy to the power grid around the world, another 380 GW of offshore wind power is expected to be built by 2032, according to the new Global Offshore Wind Report 2023, from the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC).
The GWEC, established in 2005, is the international trade association for the wind power industry, providing research and analysis on the wind power industry in more than 80 countries around the world.
Of the new wind power coming over the next decade or so, nearly half is expected to come from the Asia-Pacific region, including more than 180 GW from China and more than 50 GW from Australia, the report found. With such high expectations for power generation, the region has been dubbed the next frontier for wind power.
The amount of clean energy that will be added to the power grid is equivalent to three times Australia’s total energy consumption in 2022. The scale of the clean energy forecast would abate approximately 650 metric tons of CO2.
While the potential for an explosion of wind energy generation is there, governments will need to collaborate, cooperate and invest across the world to face the industry’s challenges.
“…Governments and industry across the world will need to work together if this potential is to be realised, while trade and industrial policies will need to focus on partnership and collaboration to deliver investment and growth,” Ben Backwell, CEO of GWEC, said in a statement. “Governments and industry will need to face head-on the challenges the sector faces around supply chain, permitting and policy in order to build future-proof markets. By solving these challenges we can build a strong, resilient global offshore wind industry that can provide a clean and secure foundation for economies around the world, and ensure we meet our climate targets.”
For example, while APAC has been called the new frontier, the report actually downgraded the potential for wind energy generation in Europe and North America by 17%. Permitting and regulatory issues have caused delays in the regions, causing developers to re-evaluate their projects or even stop development.
Plus, all regions except China will face supply chain bottlenecks by the mid 2020s, the report stated. The threat of the bottlenecks requires immediate investment and global cooperation, though ongoing restrictive trade and investment policies –– particularly calls to decouple from China’s supply chain –– could cause delays.
“Governments and industry will need to face head-on the challenges the sector faces around supply chain, permitting and policy in order to build future-proof markets,” Backwell said. “By solving these challenges we can build a strong, resilient global offshore wind industry.”
The predictions come just after the U.S. Department of Energy established a database to track wind energy materials, including cataloging the materials used to build wind turbines in current and future-use cases. The tracking measures the supply chain components of the industry to create a comprehensive understanding of the demand for the raw materials needed and their global impact.
The report predicted that the strongest growth during the period would come a little later, between 2028-2032. Current growth projections, of a compound average annual growth rate (CAGR) of 31% to 2027 and 12% to 2032, the global wind energy industry will reach and surpass its milestones of 30 GW in 2026 and 50 GW by 2030.