Wind Energy is gaining momentum on the global alternative energy market. All over the world, renewable sources are being explored for energy, and though we currently see them as alternative options, many countries have a future goal to shift completely to clean, inexhaustible resources. The switch to renewable energy is already underway, as renewable energy is expected to rise by 3 percent per year over the 2023-2025 period, compared with the 2022 growth rate. At this pace, total global renewable energy share is set to rise from 29 percent to 35 percent by 2025.
Among the different types of renewable energy sources, one that has grown quite prominently in recent years is offshore wind farms. The use of giant wind turbines situated in coastal waters to generate electricity from wind blowing across the sea is considered more efficient than onshore wind farms, thanks to the higher speed of winds, greater consistency and lack of physical interference that the land or human-made objects can present.
Apart from increased efficiency compared to onshore wind farms, offshore wind farms also provide reduced environmental impact being miles from the coast. Restricted access to their sites may even help to protect the surrounding marine ecosystems. Furthermore, oceans offer the perfect location to build wind farms in terms of scale and openness.
As of the start of 2023, across 53 countries, there are currently over 2000 offshore wind farms, with China, the United Kingdom, Germany, the U.S., and Japan as the top five offshore wind farms by country. However, as more countries begin to make the transition towards renewable energy resources, the amount of offshore wind farms around the world is surely expected to rise in the coming years.
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has released its Offshore Wind Energy Strategy, a first-of-its-kind, comprehensive summary of the Department’s efforts to meet President Biden’s goal to deploy 30 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind energy by 2030 and set the nation on a pathway to 110 GW or more by 2050. Deploying 30 GW of offshore wind would provide enough power for 10 million homes, support 77,000 jobs, and spur $12 billion per year in direct private investment.
The Department-wide strategy outlines how DOE will support the Biden-Harris Administration’s whole-of-government approach to accelerate the deployment of offshore wind in support of achieving a carbon-free electricity sector by 2035.
“The transformative potential of offshore wind energy is critical to achieving President Biden’s bold clean energy goals,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “As our Offshore Wind Energy Strategy shows, we’re leveraging all resources across our department to harness this clean and reliable American energy source, which will create tens of thousands of good-paying, union jobs and revitalize coastal communities.”
Offshore wind is rapidly growing around the world, becoming a central part of international decarbonization and a vital part of coastal economies, and the domestic potential to harness offshore wind is now emerging. There are currently 40 GW of offshore wind in various stages of development, which suggests the potential for substantial expansion. The strategy categorizes DOE’s offshore wind efforts into four pillars:
- NOW: Lower costs from $73 per megawatt-hour (MWh) to $51 per MWh by 2030, develop a domestic supply chain, and inform sustainable, just deployment of fixed-bottom offshore wind.
- FORWARD: Achieve the Floating Offshore Wind Shot goal of reducing cost by over 70% to $45/MWh by 2035, establish U.S. leadership in floating offshore wind design and manufacturing, and inform sustainable, just deployment of floating offshore wind.
- CONNECT: Enable reliable and resilient transmission solutions for large-scale offshore wind deployment.
- TRANSFORM: Expand offshore wind co-generation technologies for widespread electrification and decarbonization.
Collectively these four pillars seek to support offshore wind development in a manner that is economic, just, and environmentally sustainable. For decades, DOE’s Wind Energy Technologies Office (WETO) investments in research and development have supported the technological advances that helped commercialize wind energy production in the United States. Additionally, the Department’s work spans technical assistance, community engagement, demonstration projects, transmission planning, loan guarantees, manufacturing research, supply chain and workforce development, environmental research and more.
The DOE Offshore Wind Strategy helps connect work happening at WETO and across 15 other DOE offices with specific roles in achieving the Biden-Harris Administration’s offshore wind goals and continuing America’s transition to a clean energy economy.