A new report forecasts that offshore wind capacity worldwide will increase by a factor of 17 over the next six years, rising from 4.1 gigawatts of installed capacity today to a projected 70.1 gigawatts in 2017. While
European nations, including the United Kingdom and Denmark, continue to be the leaders in the emerging industry, China’s offshore wind market is expected to pull even by 2017, according to the report by U.S.-based Pike Research. Although the offshore wind industry faces significant challenges, including high costs, some of the world’s best wind resources are located offshore, often in shallow ocean waters near urban population centers, said Pike senior analyst Peter Asmus. “Interest in freshwater offshore wind is also picking up, especially in the Great Lakes in the United States and Canadian Midwest,” he said. A key factor in the growth of offshore wind will be the industry’s ability to reduce costs closer to 10 cents per kilowatt-hour by 2030 — less than half of current costs. Currently, offshore wind energy generation costs as much as two to three times more than land-based wind energy.