This article is written by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and discusses findings in its latest offshore wind report titled Nurturing Offshore Wind Markets: Good practices for International Standardisation.
Offshore wind energy stands on the cusp of rapid and widespread growth. Breakthroughs in fixed bottom and floating foundations and the development of giant turbines able to power thousands of homes are creating new deployment opportunities and driving cost reductions across the industry.
The U.K., Denmark, and Germany were pioneers in the sector and now are established leaders, and China has recently emerged as a key player, having installed 1.1 GW of capacity last year. However, the offshore wind industry must be encouraged to globalize in order to achieve the 500 GW of installed capacity outlined under IRENA’s 2050 transformation roadmap, up from the 19 GW of installed capacity today.
The development and adoption of international standards that govern the entire technology lifecycle can provide such encouragement, according to the findings of a new report launched by IRENA. Nurturing Offshore Wind Markets: Good practices for International Standardisation provides a detailed analysis of standardization frameworks developed by front-runner countries and identifies areas where more work is needed. Countries with plans to deploy offshore technology can find guidance on best practices in setting technical standards and certification schemes.
“The establishment of such international standards brings the work of a number of experienced offshore leaders together, merging their efforts to forge an instrument for cost reduction and investment stimulation,” said Francisco Boshell, analyst at IRENA and one of the authors of the report. “Ultimately, we want countries to have a blueprint, drawing on the experience from leading actors, to explore their full offshore potential.”
While offshore wind has a bright future, the industry is looking back to learn lessons in safety, reliability, and risk mitigation from the more traditional offshore oil and gas industry. But there are specific challenges to address, the report outlines, ones that have no historical reference such as structure designs for dynamic machines and standards for floating turbines, both of which require new thinking and tailored solutions.
With today’s international standards primarily a reflection of European weather and sea conditions, an evolution in standards is necessary to ensure they remain relevant and applicable in the deep-water, ice, and hurricane conditions likely to be found in offshore wind’s new regions such as the U.S.A., India, China, Japan, and Korea.
“Offshore wind has the potential to be inclusive, cost-effective, and game-changing,” Gielen said. “The time is now for governments to put in place detailed offshore standardization and quality-control strategies to drive the development of domestic offshore wind energy as its costs continue to fall.”