The Global Wind Energy Council, an international trade association for the global management of wind power, states that the potential of offshore wind is so enormous that by properly harnessing it, the energy demands of the U.S. could be met four times over and that of Europe seven times over. The consistent, strong, and abundant winds off lengthy coastlines of several countries form a renewable energy resource of such potential that it can very well be captured to generate affordable electricity for domestic consumption, decrease the overall greenhouse gas emissions around the globe, and diversify the energy supply goals of struggling economies.
A report by Transparency Market Research projects that the global offshore wind power will expand at an exponential 25.0% CAGR over the period between 2014 and 2022. Europe currently dominates the market, representing over 90% of the world’s total installed offshore wind capacity. However, the U.S. market for offshore wind energy generation is also making advancements at a rapid pace and is expected to come up as a lucrative ground for investment in the next few years.
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Immense Growth Potential in the U.S.
The United States has excellent offshore wind resources and the government is taking an active part in realistically developing the sector by lending financial and regulatory support to private, public, and non-profit efforts aimed at the research, development, and deployment of offshore wind technologies that could effectively harness this power source with immense potential. Although the United States has more installed onshore wind turbine power generating capacity than most other countries active in the sector, it currently has no major offshore wind turbines installed. However, government efforts and rising public awareness regarding the immense benefits of offshore wind energy, in terms of it being an emission-free resource and having the potential to provide electricity at affordable costs (which is expected to be the reality as technologies advance in the field), are changing the scenario at a favourable pace.
The U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) has awarded funds totalling over US$200 mn since 2011 for several competitive offshore wind power projects. The funds are majorly focused on three areas: demonstration of advanced technology, market acceleration, and technology development.
Technological Advancements to Make Market More Mature
As technical challenges surrounding the operation, installation, grid interconnection, and maintenance are some of the most prominent limiting factors for the overall development of the global offshore wind energy market, the vast funds being allotted to technology research in the field are justifiable.
A large proportion of global offshore wind resources are located in areas with deep water, where building conventional foundations is not practical owing to the depth of the water. To overcome this issue, companies have come up with innovative floating wind platforms made especially for deep waters. To overcome the several issues that come with the issue of the added efforts needed for maintaining machinery and power generation equipment, as it has greater potential for corrosion from exposure to seawater than on land, companies are also looking into ways to design offshore wind turbines that will more robustly suit these special environmental specifications.