Offshore Wind Energy Capacity to Reach 500 GW by 2050

Offshore wind market growth predictions show accelerated growth in the next decade, with cumulative capacity ranging from 154 to 193 gigawatts (GW) by 2030.

Long-range predictions suggest generating capacity in excess of 500 GW by 2050, according to a new report from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

In 2018, the U.S. offshore wind energy project development and operational pipeline grew 1.4% to a potential generating capacity of 25,824 megawatts (MW).

State-level policy commitments accelerated, driving increased market interest in offshore wind development. Offshore wind interest grew in California with the passage of Senate Bill 100, the 100 Percent Clean Energy Act of 2018.

Increased U.S. market interest spurred strong competition at offshore wind lease auctions. Higher offshore wind lease sale prices indicate: Increased confidence in future market growth driven by state policies; Confidence in the regulatory and financial institutions to support offshore wind project development in the nascent U.S. market; Continued cost reductions and heightened demand for offshore wind in the northeastern United States.

Industry forecasts suggest U.S. offshore wind capacity could grow from 11 to 16 GW by 2030.

By the end of 2018, cumulative global offshore wind installed capacity grew to 22,592 MW from 176 operating projects. As of Dec. 31, the global pipeline for offshore wind development capacity was about 272,000 MW.

In 2018, new commitments were added in Massachusetts (an additional 1,600 MW authorized by 2035), New York (6,600 MW added by 2035), and New Jersey (2,400 MW added by 2030), while Connecticut and Rhode Island both agreed to purchase power from Orsted’s 600-MW Revolution project.

Floating offshore wind pilot projects are advancing, with the global pipeline for floating offshore wind energy reaching 3,100 MW in 2018, with 29 announced projects and 44 MW of operating projects.

The global pipeline for floating offshore wind energy reached 3,100 MW in 2018, with 38 announced projects and 44 MW of operating projects.

Written by NREL researchers Walter Musial, Philipp Beiter, Jake Nunemaker, Vahan Gevorgian, and Paul Spitsen from the Department of Energy, the report provides detailed information on the domestic offshore wind industry and its technical and market barriers.