Positive trade wind flows out of the EWEA offshore 2013 conference

Despite reality checks players are committed to making offshore wind a sustainable industry

The recent changes to their offshore wind capacity targets by the British and German governments might lead you to think that the young industry is battling against a strong headwind.  It is, but the clear message to come out of this year’s EWEA conference is one of positive commitment to making offshore wind a sustainable industry.

The UK government has revised its original target of 20 gigawatts (GW) for offshore wind capacity by 2020 to 16 GW or less. Similarly, the German government has reduced its own target from 10GW to 6.5 GW.  For an industry still in its infancy,  this might seem like deflating news but a more realistic market outlook with achievable targets is a welcome one.

If both governments are to reach their renewable energy targets by 2020 offshore wind will form a vital part of the energy mix. Onshore wind energy has already reached parity in some countries through the optimization of equipment and installations and offshore wind needs to do the same.

Two key factors to help achieve parity:

The smart technology is available; bigger, more efficient turbines with innovative connection and control solutions have already been deployed.

Industry collaboration across the supply chain will also be key.  In order to achieve the desired economies of scale, companies and government agencies alike need to share the risks, leverage core competences and create an environment where shared learning and experiences become the norm.

The next few years will be critical for this young industry but the continued political support and investment, not just by the utilities but also by institutional investors, sends a strong and positive message.

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About the author

Alfredo Parres

I am the head of ABB's Wind Industry Sector Initiative. Currently based in Spain, I am passionate about wind energy and the many opportunities it offers to transform the world. I have been active in the wind industry since 1999 in the areas of marketing, sales, business development and product management. Since 2013, I have been the chairman of the Renewable Energy Working Group at the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China and now a board member of the WindEurope and chair of its Networks Working Group.
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