Five new offshore markets that you should know about


June 4, 2018

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In two weeks, trade body RenewableUK is set to hold its Global Offshore Wind event in Manchester – and, this year, the word ‘global’ is more appropriate than ever.

Over the last year we have seen offshore wind open up in countries such as the US and Taiwan. This is driven by trends such as falling costs and growing turbine sizes.

Meanwhile, in Europe, the offshore wind sector in the Republic of Ireland and Poland has taken some important steps, where firms like Equinor, Innogy and Parkwind are leading the way. You can read more about Ireland here and Poland here.

But you’re probably already looking at them and so, ahead of this conference, we wanted to take a few minutes to look at countries that have shown some promising activity in offshore wind over the last 12 months. Here are five of the most interesting…

1) Australia: Proximity to Asia-Pacific will prove important

Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners teamed up with Australian developer Offshore Energy in late 2017 to develop the A$8bn ($6bn) 2GW Star of the South project off the coast of Victoria. The two partners plan to complete the wind farm by 2024; and the attention from CIP, which is proving itself in Europe, Asia and North America, represents an important commitment.

The lack of local turbine makers and an established supply chain could be a concern for the country, but its proximity to the emerging Asia-Pacific market will provide vital support.

And, while we don’t yet know if the Australian government will support offshore wind, we’re confident that hostility to onshore wind from some Australian politicians shouldn’t necessarily mean offshore wind suffers. The UK is an interesting model for a country that has gone big on offshore while treating onshore wind more harshly, for example.

2) Canada: Let’s not forget the US’s northern neighbour

Danish utility Ørsted last year signed a letter of intent with Canada’s NaiKun Wind Energy, which gives the Danish utility exclusive rights to co-develop the up-to-­2GW Haida offshore scheme off the coast of British Columbia.

In January, the Canadian government announced the launch of a C$200m ($160m) call to receive expressions of interest from firms keen to develop offshore wind, tidal or geothermal projects. The funding is set to support companies looking to develop green infrastructure projects as part of a C$21.9bn ($17.5bn) programme.

It is still early days, but Canada has the longest coastlines in the world, and major capabilities from marine industries that can support offshore wind projects. The emergence of the offshore wind industry in the northeast US states should provide significant local knowledge too.

3) India: Overseas and local players must make their mark

By 2022, India wants at least 5GW of offshore wind capacity. It’s a big four-year target.

Last month, the Indian government called for expressions of interest from domestic and international firms interested in developing the country’s first 1GW commercial offshore wind farm, off the coast of Gujarat; and consulting group COWI announced last September the start of geographical works to build a 200MW scheme.

However, the government has set rules that could make the development of offshore wind farms very challenging. For example, domestic bidders must have an installed capacity of over 500MW of onshore wind and would have to tie up with international companies with at least 500MW of offshore wind experience to submit their bids. International players haven’t always found it easy to get into onshore wind in India. Will offshore be any different?

4) Japan: Diet seeks to unblock longstanding offshore interest

In January, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the government would introduce laws to open up offshore wind. Following that, the cabinet approved legislation in March to allow developers to place competitive bids to win the rights to develop offshore schemes. The law is due to go through the Japanese Diet this month, and is definitely one to watch.

We’ve written plenty before about the interest that large Japanese players including Marubeni, Mitsubishi, Mitsui, Samsung and Sumitomo have shown in offshore wind over the years, so we won’t go back over that here; and the commercialisation of floating foundations will be an important step for this market. Backing in the Diet could help finally unlock this potential.

5) South Korea: Macquarie development is one to watch

South Korea’s government has set a 2.5GW target for offshore wind by 2019. This fits into the country’s strategy to add 58GW of wind and solar capacity by 2030, up from its current 11GW. To achieve this, the government plans to invest $36bn in renewables over the next five years.

This would be a big step up, given the country has completed so far only its 30MW Doosan offshore wind farm and installed only 1.1GW of onshore wind. Backing from the government is certainly there, and Macquarie has committed to co-develop a 1GW floating project too, which shows that experienced players are taking the opportunity seriously. The country may fail to deliver on that 2.5GW ambition, but it is nonetheless of indication of local support.

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