Offshore wind power has ‘remarkable’ potential, concludes a new report from the International Energy Agency.
Released last week, the new report details how offshore wind turbines will most likely supply the next great clean energy revolution. Wind power has the potential to become a $1 trillion business by 2040 and could provide more electricity than the world needs.
“Offshore wind currently provides just 0.3% of global power generation, but its potential is vast,” said IEA’s executive director, Fatih Birol.
The global offshore wind market has grown tremendously in the past decade, mainly due to “rapid technology improvements” that have led to nearly 150 new offshore wind projects. Growth has been particularly robust in European countries that border the North Seas, where weather conditions are exceptionally good for offshore wind turbines.
But according to the IEA, enough electricity could be generated even if offshore wind farms are only built in windy regions in shallow waters near the shore.
As The Guardian reported:
“If windfarms were built across all useable sites which are no further than 60km (37 miles) off the coast, and where coastal waters are no deeper than 60 metres, they could generate 36,000 terawatt hours of renewable electricity a year. This would easily meeting the current global demand for electricity of 23,000 terawatt hours.”
The IEA predicts that global supplies of renewable electricity could expand by 50% in the next five years.
Not only could wind turbines generate clean electricity, but they also have the potential to produce hydrogen, an alternative to fossil fuel gas for heating.
Environmental groups warn that although the report brings great news about the potential of wind turbines, such a massive change in worldwide energy demand would require immense “public pressure, business leadership and political leadership to unchain us from our current fossil fuel addiction.”
“Much work remains to be done by governments and industry for it to become a mainstay of clean energy transitions,” echoed Birol.
“Yet today’s offshore wind market doesn’t even come close to tapping the full potential – with high-quality resources available in most major markets, offshore wind has the potential to generate more than 420 000 TWh per year worldwide,” states the report. “This is more than 18 times global electricity demand today.”