IRENA/GWEC report identifies key permitting reforms that unlock offshore wind’s potential and accelerate the energy transition

A new report from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC), as an outcome of IRENA’s Collaborative Framework on Ocean Energy and Offshore Renewables, has identified eight key permitting reforms that would play a crucial role in delivering the rapid acceleration of renewable energy installations the world needs to stay on course for 1.5C, and net zero by 2050. The report is the product of industry and governments coming together in the context of IRENA’s Collaborative Framework to find practical solutions to this key challenge. 

Through the Collaborative Framework, ten governments collaborated by supplying case studies and signing off the recommendations in the report. Collaboration is crucial to delivering on offshore wind’s potential, and the reforms highlighted in this report are the sort of actionable solutions that can help rapidly scale up the deployment of offshore wind. 

The recommendations are focused on mandated lead times, alignment of land and ocean use, establishing one-stop-shops, stakeholder consultations, digital training courses, digital databases, emergency clearing mechanisms and energy infrastructure permits. 

Permitting is a key bottleneck for offshore wind – highlighted by manufacturers, developers and investors, and seen in every region of the world, and with projects of every size. Overcoming this bottleneck would have a transformative effect on the rapid rollout of offshore wind. 

IRENA’s World Energy Transition Outlook (WETO) 2023 found the world needs to cut carbon dioxide emission by around 27 gigatonnes from the levels seen in 2022 if the energy sector is to be net zero by 2050. Offshore wind can play a critical role in delivering the clean energy required for this fundamental change. 

GWEC last two Global Offshore Wind Reports highlighted the enormous growth of offshore wind: 2021 and 2022 were the two biggest years for offshore wind installations. However growth is nowhere near quick enough. IRENA’s latest WETO analysis indicates the necessity of offshore wind to grow from 64 GW of total capacity currently to 494 GW by 2030, and reach 2,465 GW by 2050.  IRENA and GWEC confirms their confidence in the potential of this technology to achieve the pressing global energy transition targets.

Rebecca Williams, Global Head of Offshore Wind, GWEC, said:

“On the same day as 250 organisations call on policy makers around the world to set an ambitious target to triple renewables globally by 230, we are also setting out just how this could be done. Offshore wind has the potential to deliver transformative clean energy in every region of the world, but unlocking this potential requires decisive action on key bottlenecks. Permitting is at the top of that list. The reforms outlined in this report provide practical solutions that would clear the way for the rapid expansion of offshore wind in key markets around the world.”

Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) is a member-based organisation that represents the entire wind energy sector. The members of GWEC represent over 1,500 companies, organisations and institutions in more than 80 countries, including manufacturers, developers, component suppliers, research institutes, national wind and renewables associations, electricity providers, finance and insurance companies.

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The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) serves as the principal platform for international co-operation; a centre of excellence; a repository of policy, technology, resource and financial knowledge; and a driver of action on the ground to advance the transformation of the global energy system. A global intergovernmental organisation established in 2011, IRENA promotes the widespread adoption and sustainable use of all forms of renewable energy, including bioenergy and geothermal, hydropower, ocean, solar and wind energy, in the pursuit of sustainable development, energy access, energy security, and low-carbon economic growth and prosperity.

IRENA’s Collaborative Frameworks seek to facilitate peer-­to-peer collaboration and knowledge exchange on key aspects of the energy transition. They also serve as multi-stakeholder platforms for co-operation and co-ordinated action, bringing public, private, intergovernmental and non-governmental actors together to support and accelerate the global energy transformation. The Collaborative Framework on Ocean Energy/Offshore Renewables serves as an effective vehicle for dialogue, co-operation and coordinated action to accelerate the uptake of offshore renewables in benefit of the global renewable energy transformation. The scope of the Collaborative Framework in the form of different workstreams aims to:Provide a global platform for enhanced international cooperation to accelerate the deployment of offshore renewables worldwide; Create a community of country and industry experts, to facilitate the exchange of knowledge and best practices in supporting Offshore Renewables Markets; Undertake analytical reviews of selected thematic in support to integrate offshore renewables in action agendas for the energy sector in global initiatives such as the G20 and the UNFCCC COP; Foster enabling policy, regulatory, technology and financial frameworks for increased deployment of offshore renewables towards the transformative decarbonisation of societies.

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