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Report: Most Nations are Behind Schedule on Offshore Wind Targets

block island
Courtesy Block Island Wind

Published Nov 11, 2022 7:14 PM by The Maritime Executive

The renewable-power industry has been sounding the alarm about permitting hurdles and inflation for months, but a new report released during COP27 suggests the real-world impact of these factors. Only three nations are on track to hit their 2030 goals for offshore wind power capacity, primarily due to the long timeline for permit reviews. 

According to a report from The Renewables Consulting Group (RCG), most nations with ambitious 2030 offshore wind targets will fall short, some by a wide margin - and some by the entirety. India, which has ambitions to install 30 GW of offshore wind by 2030, has zero today and is expected to still have zero in eight years' time. Greece and Spain are expected to fare little better, though their targets are smaller. All told, out of the fifteen countries that have offshore wind development targets for 2030, 80 percent are already predicted to miss their stated goals. Only Poland, Vietnam and Denmark are on track. 

"Considering that planning and obtaining approvals for offshore wind consent takes four to five years on average, regulatory bodies should investigate shortening their consenting processes," warned RCG. 

The slow progress has implications for longer-term goals, too. In order to meet climate targets for 2050, the world needs to install about 270 GW of offshore wind by 2030 and 2,000 GW of total capacity by midcentury. Given that only about 60 GW has been installed worldwide to date, this is a staggering industrial project, and RCG says that nations are already about seven percent behind schedule on ramp-up. 

Economic factors are also dragging on offshore wind development. Turbine manufacturers have been losing money and raising prices because of inflation in the cost of energy and materials. At least one developer has been attempting to renegotiate a previously-signed power purchase agreement because today's construction costs are simply too high. Offshore wind remains competitive with other sources of power generation, but RCG warns that increasing capital costs may undermine net zero emissions goals.

Offshore wind alliance takes off

In better news from the COP27 climate conference, nine countries with offshore wind ambitions have signed up Global Offshore Wind Alliance (GOWA), an initiative launched in September by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

The new members include United Kingdom, the U.S, Japan, Germany  Belgium, Colombia, Ireland, the Netherlands and Norway.

The alliance seeks to drive uptake of offshore wind through political mobilization and pooling practical knowledge. Its goal is to achieve a total global offshore wind capacity of a minimum of 380 GW by 2030, with 35 GW on average each year across the 2020s and a minimum of 70 GW each year from 2030, culminating in 2,000 GW by 2050. 

RCG's reservations (above) suggest that this may prove challenging without changing policy first, and the alliance plans to address that question. Members have agreed to work together to remove barriers to the deployment of offshore wind in new and existing markets, hoping to close the gap between ambitions and current rates of implementation.

“Offshore wind represents a unique opportunity for countries to add huge volumes of new zero-carbon power generation, increase their climate ambition and ratchet up their NDCs. Offshore wind is more than competitive with fossil fuel generation, and can also provide a massive boost to investment and job creation,” said Francesco la Camera, IRENA Director General.