Deep Water: The next step for offshore wind energy


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The European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) looks at how deep water offshore wind turbines can help unlock the energy potential in Europe's Atlantic and Mediterranean seas and the deepest parts of the North Sea.

Offshore wind is one of the fastest growing maritime sectors. Its installed capacity was 5 GW at end 2012, and by 2020 this could be eight times higher, at 40 GW, meeting 4% of European electricity demand. By 2030, offshore wind capacity could total 150 GW, meeting 14% of the EU’s total electricity consumption.

However, for this to happen, a supportive legislative framework is needed, and new offshore designs must be developed for deep water in order to tap the large wind potential of the Atlantic, Mediterranean and deep North Sea waters. Current commercial substructures are economically limited to maximum water depths of 40m to 50m. The ‘deep offshore’ environment starts at water depths greater than 50m.

- Floating turbine designs are cost-competitive with fixed-bottom designs in waters over 50m deep.
- If challenges are successfully met, deep water wind farms could be operating in four years’ time.
- Floating turbines in North Sea deep waters alone could power Europe four times over.
- Offshore wind in Europe could be providing 145 million households with renewable electricity and employing 318,000 people by 2030, while providing energy security, technology exports, and no greenhouse gases.
- If the requirements are met, the first full-scale deep offshore wind farms could be producing power by 2017.

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Deep Water: The next step for offshore wind energy

  1. 1. Deep water The next step for offshore wind energy
  2. 2. Annual and cumulative installations of offshore wind in Europe (MW) Source: EWEA
  3. 3. Typical fixed offshore foundations Source: EWEA
  4. 4. Share of substructure types for online wind farms, end 2012 (units) Source: EWEA
  5. 5. Location of deep water wind energy designs (based on number of projects announced) Source: EWEA
  6. 6. Average water depth and distance to shore for online, under construction and consented offshore wind farms (bubble size represents the total capacity of the wind farm) Source: EWEA
  7. 7. Offshore market projects online, under construction and consented (MW) Source: EWEA
  8. 8. Share of consented offshore wind farms by sea basin (MW) Source: EWEA
  9. 9. Offshore wind foundations Source: Principle Power
  10. 10. About the European Wind Energy Association EWEA is the voice of the wind industry, actively promoting wind power in Europe and worldwide. It has over 700 members from almost 60 countries making EWEA the world's largest and most powerful wind energy network. Rue d'Arlon 80 B-1040 Brussels Belgium
  11. 11. To download the pdf version click here If you want to see more statistics, reports, news and information about wind energy event please visit EWEA’s website or contact us at