By Liz Burdock, Executive Director, Business Network for Offshore Wind
Those of us who follow the clean energy marketplace know the story of how one country, Germany, created the modern solar energy industry by subsidizing solar installations starting in 1990 and using the Feed In Tariff (FIT) to grow photovoltaics to a 41.3 GW market by 2016, second only to China in solar production. By supporting the rooftop purchases of solar panels, Germany jump-started a worldwide solar industry that created economies of scale and made solar energy more affordable for consumers from California to Saudi Arabia.
Now, Germany, Denmark, the UK, and other European countries are doing it again, this time for offshore wind. Since 1991, when Denmark built a small wind farm a few miles off its coast, several northern European countries have made the investments, learned from the mistakes, and cut the costs of building bigger and bigger turbines and wind farms in deeper water. Along the way they have improved undersea cables, electrical substations, and other elements of connecting to the existing grids on land.
After many years of hard work and the spending of billions of dollars, the Europeans continue to see the benefits of scaling up the offshore wind industry, but now in many situations without subsidy, and they are showing the U.S. market what its offshore wind marketplace could look like in ten to 15 years. Starting from 15 gigawatts (GW) of wind farms in 2016, Europe is projected to take the world market to 30 GW by 2020 and 70 GW by 2025, with new players like China, France and California in the U.S. getting “steel in the water.”
That’s why we in the U.S. offshore wind industry owe a real debt to our friends across the Atlantic, and why we are so happy to welcome impressive delegations from all over northern Europe, including Denmark, England, Norway, France, Germany and Belgium, to our fifth annual International Offshore Wind Partnering Forum (IPF) this April in New Jersey.
The IPF is a chance to learn from these countries and companies like Orsted, Statoil, DNV GL, Siemens Gamesa, WSP, LM Wind Power, and so many others, and to thank them, once again, for helping create a marketplace for clean and affordable offshore wind energy.
For more information on the IPF conference, go to www.2018ipf.com