1,400 GW of offshore wind by 2050 achievable with increased government commitment and collaboration

Source: press release, 2 December 2020

OREAC’s new report ‘The Power of Our Ocean’ highlights how 1,400 GW of offshore wind is achievable by 2050
OREAC’s new report ‘The Power of Our Ocean’ highlights how 1,400 GW of offshore wind is achievable by 2050 (illustration: OREAC)

The Ocean Renewable Energy Action Coalition (OREAC) is calling on governments to ramp up their offshore renewable energy ambition to achieve the coalition’s vision of 1,400 GW of offshore wind by 2050. To support the rapid, global scale-up of ocean-based clean energy, OREAC has published The Power of Our Ocean as a guiding document for countries to accelerate offshore wind development and reap the socioeconomic, environmental and health benefits it can offer.

OREAC is an initiative led by world-leading developers, technology suppliers, utilities and non-profit organisations in the offshore energy sector, formed after the 2019 call for urgent ocean-based climate action by the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy (Ocean Panel). OREAC has published this new report and an Offshore Wind Market Readiness Assessment Toolkit, and is engaging with governments worldwide to support their offshore wind development.

In its new report, OREAC outlines a roadmap to support the sustainable scale-up of ocean-based renewable energy and five fundamental building blocks to grow an offshore wind market: stable policies, pipeline visibility, resourced institutions, a supportive and engaged public, and a competitive environment.

Ocean-based solutions can deliver 21% of carbon emissions reductions needed by 2050 to keep global warming within 1.5° C above pre-industrial levels, according to the Ocean Panel. Ocean-based renewable energy like offshore wind offers the most effective decarbonisation route and can provide half of these reductions; other forms of ocean energy can also play a part if brought to commercialisation.

In addition to reducing carbon emissions, offshore wind reduces air pollution and water consumption for energy use, providing compound value for investment in welfare and economic gains. The report finds that if the 1,400 GW vision is achieved, this could save USD 1.88 trillion in pollution-related public health costs – an area currently strained by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Offshore wind is also an important industry to revitalise coastal communities and support the development of critical infrastructure. The report estimates that a 500 MW offshore wind project with an average 25-year lifetime creates about 10,000 years of full-time employment.

Benj Sykes, Head of Market Development, Consenting and External Affairs at Ørsted, commented: “If we are to have any chance of meeting Paris Climate Agreement targets for global warming, it is crucial that governments significantly scale-up their renewable energy ambitions. Offshore wind is one of the most effective large-scale technologies available that can reduce global carbon emissions and displace fossil fuels. And offshore wind can only reach its full potential with the committed and wide-ranging support of governments. This new report highlights the essential building blocks needed to develop government and industry partnerships and accelerate sustainable deployment of ocean renewable energy around the world.”

Stephen Bull, Senior Vice President Offshore wind at Equinor, adds, “While 1,400 GW may seem like a daunting number compared to the 29 GW of offshore wind installed today, this is only a small fraction of the technical potential available worldwide. We want to ensure that governments around the world are well-equipped to effectively tap into this resource potential. Offshore wind has proven itself to be an important driver of jobs, local investment, affordable energy, grid stability, and energy security in countries across the world, but repeating the success story of offshore wind in new markets is not ‘copy and paste’. OREAC and its members are ready to work with governments to help find the right solutions and roadmaps to scale up their offshore wind markets and reap the associated social, environmental and economic benefits.”

This report was published in response to the Ocean Panel’s “Transformations for a Sustainable Ocean Economy”, a far-reaching political document which underscores that bold actions and increased collaboration are needed to develop a sustainable ocean economy, where environmental conservation and economic production and prosperity go hand in hand.

The full report is authored by BVG Associates and contains data, case studies, and guidelines to achieve OREAC’s vision of 1,400 GW of offshore wind by 2050. OREAC will continue engaging with governments to realise their ocean energy potential in the run-up to the UN Ocean Conference next year.