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The Ocean Renewable Energy Action Coalition (OREAC) has announced its vision for 1,400GW of offshore wind globally by 2050 to drive decarbonisation and a green economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis.

This ambition goes beyond current offshore wind forecasts but is entirely achievable considering the resource potential, technology innovation, and government appetite to position offshore wind at the centre of the global energy transition, according to OREAC.

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OREAC was formed in response to the 2019 call for ocean-based climate action by the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy (Ocean Panel), and represents ocean energy in the global dialogue on a sustainable ocean economy.

The Ocean Panel is a unique initiative of 14 serving world leaders working with diverse stakeholders to accelerate bold, pragmatic solutions for realising a sustainable ocean economy.

report commissioned by the Ocean Panel shows that ocean-based renewable energy, such as offshore wind, floating solar, tidal and wave power, could meet nearly 10% of the global annual greenhouse gas emissions reductions needed to remain on a Paris-compliant 1.5°C pathway in 2050.

It estimates that up to 85% of this decarbonisation potential will come from technology. 1,400GW of offshore wind would power one-tenth of global electricity demand while saving over 3 billion tonnes of CO2 per year, equal to taking 800 million cars off the road.

Benj Sykes, head of market development, consenting and external affairs at Ørsted, commented: “In a short period of time, offshore wind has become an incredibly competitive solution for clean power generation across the world, with impressive cost reduction driving the industry’s growth by over 30% in the past decade and now outcompeting alternative fuels such as coal.”

Growth potential of offshore wind

Sykes continued: “Over 30GW of capacity is already installed, yet this is just the tip of the iceberg for the massive growth potential of offshore wind. Working alongside other technologies such as renewable hydrogen could further bolster offshore wind’s ability to power economies across the world sustainably and at a low cost.

“The sector’s success to date has been built on collaboration with governments, and OREAC is ready to work with policymakers across the globe to deliver this potential and realise our clean energy future sooner than ever thought possible.”

Scaling up offshore wind is a cornerstone of decarbonising the world’s energy use and will support the revitalisation of economies, which is more important than ever in the context of economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis.

The industry is ready to play an important role in powering a green recovery with ocean renewable energy at its heart, states OREAC.

The Coalition estimates that offshore wind could provide around 24 million years of employment (defined as full-time work for one person per calendar year with 260 working days) by 2050, if the 1,400GW vision is achieved.

This job creation potential is calculated using IRENA data, and covers the full value chain of offshore wind, from procurement to construction to decommissioning.

Stephen Bull, senior vice president offshore wind at Equinor, added: “The ongoing COVID-19 crisis has forced us to take a step back and rethink the future we want to create for the next generation. Going back to ‘normal’ is not an option if we want to build more resilient economies and sustainable development pathways that will benefit all citizens.

“Offshore wind can promote better health by reducing air pollution, increase energy security by reducing dependence on expensive imported fuels, save billions of litres of water, reduce the harmful environmental, social and economic impacts of climate change, and be an important driver of economic growth and job creation. While this may seem too good to be true, the reality is that offshore wind is ready to deliver now. It can provide all these benefits and more to drive a sustainable economic recovery and contribute to thriving, sustainable economies of the future,” said Bull.

OREAC is spearheaded by Ørsted and Equinor, and includes other major players in the global offshore wind industry: CWind, Global Marine Group, JERA, MHI Vestas, MingYang Smart Energy, Mainstream Renewable Power, Shell, Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy, TenneT, and GE Renewable Energy.

Additional partner organisations include Global Wind Energy Council, World Resources Institute, UN Global Compact, the Chinese Wind Energy Association and Ocean Energy Systems.