Offshore wind power


A total of 2,219 MW of new offshore wind power was installed across seven markets globally in 2016, and although numbers were down 31% from last year’s record, the future looks promising. Overall, there is now 14,384 MW of installed offshore wind power capacity in 14 markets around the world.

At the end of 2016, nearly 88% (12,631 MW) of all offshore wind installations were located in waters off the coast of ten European countries. The remaining 12% of the installed capacity is located largely in China, followed by Japan, South Korea and the United States.

The UK is the world’s largest offshore wind market and accounts for just under 36% of installed capacity, followed by Germany in the second spot with 29%. China passed Denmark in 2016 to achieve 3rd place in the global offshore rankings with 11%. Denmark now accounts for 8.8%, the Netherlands 7.8%, Belgium 5% and Sweden 1.4%. Other markets including Finland, Ireland, Spain, Japan, South Korea, the USA and Norway make the balance of the market.

The spread of the offshore industry has begun beyond its northern European home to North America, East Asia, India and elsewhere. The first US offshore wind farm came on line last year, there is a renewed push in China, and an ambitious programme in Taiwan; we can hope to see global growth start to take off in earnest in the next few years, although Europe will continue to dominate for the foreseeable future.

However, the big story in 2016 was the dramatic reduction in offshore wind prices. It started with the Dutch tender for Borssele 1 & 2 in June coming in at €72/MWh, well below expectations; followed by a Danish nearshore tender in September at €64/MWh. This was followed in November with the winning bid for the Danish Krieger’s Flak project coming in at an astonishing €49.90/MWh; and then Borssele 3 & 4 in the Netherlands coming in at €54.50/MWh in December. We now have the strange situation where at least at the moment, in some circumstances, offshore is cheaper than onshore!

The reasons are many: the maturing of the industry, the improvement and maturation of the technology and management thereof, growing investor confidence, and the introduction and deployment of a new generation of 6-8 MW (and now 9MW with the up-rating of the Vestas V-164) machines, with enormous swept area and tremendous output.

Click graph for a close-up image.  


For more details about offshore wind development worldwide see latest GWEC’s Global Wind Report Chapter on Global Offshore here.