New coalition says offshore wind could power 10% of world’s energy demand

Offshore Wind

On June 8, World Ocean Day, the Ocean Renewable Energy Action Coalition (OREAC) announced its vision for 1,400 GW of offshore wind globally by 2050 to drive decarbonization and a green economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis.

This vision of 1400 GW of offshore wind capacity goes well beyond current offshore wind forecasts, but OREAC says it is possible considering the resource potential, technology innovation, and government appetite to position offshore wind at the center of the global energy transition. In addition, says OREAC, it would go a long way to helping the world economy recover from the COVID-19-induced recession.

OREAC estimates that offshore wind could provide around 24 million years of employment (defined as full-time work for one person per calendar year with 260 working days) by 2050, if the 1,400 GW vision is achieved. This job creation potential is calculated using IRENA data, and covers the full value chain of offshore wind, from procurement to construction to decommissioning.

OREAC was formed in response to the 2019 call for ocean-based climate action by the Ocean Panel, a group of 14 world leaders who last year called for “a sustainable ocean economy, where effective protection, sustainable production and equitable prosperity go hand-in-hand,” according to its website.

Offshore wind developers Ørsted and Equinor are spearheading OREAC and the coalition also includes other players in the global offshore wind industry: CWind, Global Marine Group, JERA, MHI Vestas, MingYang Smart Energy, Mainstream Renewable Power, Shell, Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy, TenneT, and GE Renewable Energy. Additional partner organizations include Global Wind Energy Council, World Resources Institute, UN Global Compact, the Chinese Wind Energy Association and Ocean Energy Systems.

report commissioned by the Ocean Panel shows that ocean-based renewable energy, such as offshore wind, floating solar, tidal and wave power, could meet nearly 10% of the global annual greenhouse gas emissions reductions needed to remain on a Paris-compliant 1.5°C pathway in 2050.

It estimates that up to 85% of this decarbonization potential will come from offshore wind and says that 1,400 GW of offshore wind capacity would power one-tenth of global electricity demand while saving over 3 billion tonnes of CO2 per year, equal to taking 800 million cars off the road.

Benj Sykes, Head of Market Development, Consenting and External Affairs at Ørsted, commented: “Over 30 GW of [offshore wind] capacity is already installed, yet this is just the tip of the iceberg for the massive growth potential of offshore wind. Working alongside other technologies such as renewable hydrogen could further bolster offshore wind’s ability to power economies across the world sustainably and at a low cost.”

Stephen Bull, Senior Vice President Offshore wind at Equinor, added: “The ongoing COVID-19 crisis has forced us to take a step back and rethink the future we want to create for the next generation. Going back to ‘normal’ is not an option if we want to build more resilient economies and sustainable development pathways that will benefit all citizens. Offshore wind can promote better health by reducing air pollution, increase energy security by reducing dependence on expensive imported fuels, save billions of litres of water, reduce the harmful environmental, social and economic impacts of climate change, and be an important driver of economic growth and job creation. While this may seem too good to be true, the reality is that offshore wind is ready to deliver now. It can provide all these benefits and more to drive a sustainable economic recovery and contribute to thriving, sustainable economies of the future”.

Later this year, OREAC will launch its roadmap for 2050, which will outline the actions needed to support industry and policymakers in achieving the 1,400 GW vision.

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Jennifer Runyon
Jennifer Runyon is chief editor of RenewableEnergyWorld.com and Renewable Energy World magazine, coordinating, writing and/or editing columns, features, news stories and blogs for the publications. She also serves as conference chair of Renewable Energy World International Conference and Expo. Formerly, she was the managing editor of Innovate Forum, an online publication that focused on innovation in manufacturing. Prior to that she was the managing editor at Desktop Engineering magazine. In 2008, she won an "Eddy Award" for her editing work on an article about solar trees in Vienna. In 2010, RenewableEnergyWorld.com was awarded an American Business Media Neal Award for its eNewsletters, which were created under her direction. She holds a Master's Degree in English Education from Boston University and a BA in English from the University of Virginia.

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