Offshore wind currently provides just 0.3% of global power generation, but its potential is vast, IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol said, stressing that much work remains to be done by governments and industry for it to become a mainstay of clean energy transitions.

Birol launched a new report from the International Energy Agency (IEA), the Offshore Wind Outlook 2019, in Copenhagen, Denmark – the birthplace of offshore wind – alongside the Danish Minister for Climate, Energy and Utilities, Dan Jørgensen. Birol said at the launch event that offshore wind will be the number one source of power generation in a carbon neutral Europe by 2050.

According to the report released on 25 October, offshore wind is set to play a major role in the world’s energy mix, predicting that global offshore capacity may rise 15-fold by 2040.

The IEA thinks European offshore wind capacity will reach 130-180 GW by 2040. They say falling costs and ‘remarkable technological progress’ – bigger turbines and floating offshore wind – will drive progress. They say offshore wind is already as stable a form of power generation as coal and gas in many places, given its high capacity factors.

The European Commission’s eight scenarios for 2050 show Europe needs between 230 and 450 GW of offshore wind by 2050 to decarbonise our energy system. “And Europe is well positioned to deliver on these volumes,” WindEurope said in a press release. “We lead the world in offshore wind technology and export large volumes of it. We have just erected a 12 MW offshore wind turbine. And we are leading the deployment of floating offshore wind, which will play a key role in the future. Our supply chain, ports and logistics have all achieved economies of scale. And over 60,000 Europeans now work in offshore wind.”

WindEurope CEO Giles Dickson hailed the IEA report, noting that it is a strong endorsement of offshore wind. “They’re spot on in showing how falling costs and technology development have made offshore wind an obvious choice for countries as a source of energy. And the report shows not only how offshore wind is as cheap as coal and gas in many regions, it’s also as stable in terms of its ‘capacity factors,’” he said.

“The numbers the IEA envisage for Europe are actually conservative. They say 130-180 GW by 2040. But we’ll already have 90 GW by 2030, thanks to the increased commitments Governments have made since they started writing their National Energy & Climate Plans. The EU Commission’s eight scenarios for 2050 envisage between 230 and 450 GW by 2050, and that’s what we’re aiming for,” Dickson said.