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It’s time to show the potential of offshore wind to the world

The Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) and the World Bank have teamed up to bring a delegation from 15 countries with emerging offshore wind markets to #RUKGOW19 to hear from the experts in the industry. In this blog, GWEC CEO Ben Backwell talks about the global opportunity of offshore wind. Ben will be speaking at the Global Market Updates session of Global Offshore Wind in London on Tuesday 25th June, find out more and register here.

As the world looks for competitive, zero carbon energy sources that can be deployed at scale and in relatively fast time frames, offshore wind is in greater demand than ever before on the world-stage. The market will become truly global over the next five years. Capacity will grow, especially in Asia and the first large-scale offshore installations are expected in North America towards 2022 or 2023. So, whilst currently, eight per cent of the new installations are offshore, we expect this share to jump to 22 per cent by 2023.

To achieve or even exceed this growth ambition, we are focusing a large part of our activities on promising markets and providing guidance on wind potential, technical development and regulatory structures through the Global Offshore Wind Task Force. Chaired by Alastair Dutton and supported by offshore wind energy pioneer Henrik Stiesdal, the Task Force convenes some of our industry’s greatest minds on offshore technology, consisting of leading developers, investors and manufacturers in the sector, as well as technical experts and inter-governmental organisations.

Since its inception in October, the Task Force has already been an important hub for the industry’s efforts to promote the growth of offshore wind. In late 2018 and early this year, we were a leading force in ensuring the significant and promising market of Taiwan was able to stay the course and find the right compromise between regulators and industry to ensure the long-term success of that market.

In March, we announced a landmark partnership with the World Bank Group’s Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP) and the International Finance Corporation on efforts to accelerate the uptake of offshore wind in emerging markets. ESMAP is a partnership between the World Bank and 18 partners to help low and middle-income countries reduce poverty and boost growth, through environmentally sustainable energy solutions.

Although offshore wind has made significant strides in markets such as Europe and China, its true potential reaches far beyond these established areas and our partnership with the World Bank ensures the benefits of offshore wind can be realised in all corners of the world where the wind potential exists.

I often visit such countries as part of our effort to be the leading voice for the wind industry globally. In doing so, the experiences and achievements of the wind industry in the UK serve as both invaluable learnings and unmatched inspiration. The journey from Blyth to the Sector Deal announced earlier this year, the innovative approach to finance and development of supply chain structures all represent a valuable legacy for the industry to uphold as we look to replicate this success elsewhere.

That’s why I am incredibly proud that this month, in partnership with the World Bank, we will be hosting a delegation that includes representatives from 15 countries here in the UK during the week of Global Offshore Wind 2019. The arrival of the delegation in the UK is a testament to the success story of offshore wind in this market and a passing of the baton so that these achievements can be replicated elsewhere.

2018 marked a pivotal year where China, for the first time, installed and connected more offshore capacity than any other country with 1.8GW, including the UK which took second place with 1.3GW. This welcomed trend shows the expansion and growth of offshore wind beyond the UK where it has achieved so much and into the markets where we have so much more to do. GWEC and the Global Offshore Wind Task Force, along with partners from industry and inter-governmental organisations, will take the lead on ensuring the ambition and potential we witness in just a few weeks’ time, is converted into action over the years to come.

About Ben Backwell

Ben Backwell is CEO of the Global Wind Energy Council, the voice of the global wind industry. Ben is a leading commentator and strategist in the renewable energy sector. He worked as a journalist and analyst for 20 years, covering energy policy, markets and large energy companies in Europe, the US, Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina and other countries.


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