GlobalData’s latest report, ‘Wind turbine foundations, update 2018 – global market size, competitive landscape, key country analysis and forecast to 2022’, reveals that, currently, projects in most countries are installed with monopile, jacket and tripod-based foundations. However, following a number of successful prototypes, offshore wind turbines installed with floating foundations are expected to have more commercial development in the forecast period. While several floating offshore wind concepts exist, two designs are the best known: HyWind and Windfloat.

“The global wind power market witnessed significant growth during 2012–17, with cumulative wind power installed capacity increasing from 284GW in 2012 to 546GW in 2017,” says GlobalData senior analyst Subha Krishnan. “A great deal of potential exists for offshore wind installations. It is estimated that offshore wind has the potential to meet seven times the energy demand of Europe and four times that of the US.

“Innovative technologies, offshore wind policy support in some countries, national targets, growing investor confidence, and introduction and deployment of large-sized turbines for cost reduction are some of the drivers for offshore wind development globally.”

Rising in the east

China is currently home to more than a third of the world’s wind power cumulative capacity, and had 188GW at the end of 2017. The country added exceptionally large wind power capacity of over 125GW during 2012–17. It registered record capacity additions of 23.5, 33 and 20.5GW in 2014, 2015 and 2016, respectively. It is expected to add another 92GW during the forecast period 2018–22, with an annual installation of nearly 18.4GW. Furthermore, at the Conference of Parties (COP21) held in Paris on 30 November 2015, China committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 60–65% from 2005 levels by 2030.

This has added impetus to the country’s effort in increasing wind power installed capacity. Currently in China, high-rise pile caps and monopiles are the most popular foundation choice, but a variety of foundations, including jackets, multipiles, gravity bases and suction bucket foundations, have also been installed, with most foundations having been deployed in intertidal zones. While the intertidal zone has provided a useful testing ground for different foundation types, there is a clear need to test more foundations offshore in order to identify which are most appropriate for Chinese waters.

Developers are still unsure which foundations to go with, as the majority of identified sites are yet to announce the foundations that they will use, particularly those looking to develop offshore projects. Foundation design in China is conducted by a handful of domestic design institutes active in the industry, which will then subcontract the responsibility for the fabrication and installation of the foundations.

Offshore wind has the potential to meet seven times the energy demand of Europe and four times that of the US.
– Subha Krishnan, GlobalData

There are a number of foundation designs available for offshore wind farms and these have been demonstrated in China. The choice of offshore foundation is determined by a series of factors, such as seabed condition, water depth, foundation cost, ease of installation and size of wind turbine.

The US was the second-largest wind power market in the world after China, with 89GW of cumulative installed capacity in 2017, equivalent to over 15% of global installed wind capacity. During 2012–17, the US added 42GW of wind power with an average annual installation of 7.1GW. The country is expected to add another 37.5GW during the forecast period 2018–22, with an annual installation of nearly 7.5GW. Onshore wind is the dominant technology in the country, holding a share of over 95% for installations up to 2017.

Germany, which was the thirdlargest wind power market in the world, is the leader in Europe, with 56GW of cumulative wind installed capacity as of 2017, equivalent to over 10% of global installed wind capacity. During 2012–17, Germany added 27GW of wind power with an average annual installation of 4.5GW. The country is expected to add another 27GW during the forecast period 2018–22, with an annual installation of nearly 5.4GW. India, Spain, the UK, Canada and France were other countries with significant installed wind capacity installations in 2017.

“China is the largest manufacturing hub for wind turbines and their components. Manufacturing capacity, coupled with an abundance of highwind- speed sites, means it is only natural for China to become a world leader in terms of installed capacity,” Krishnan adds. “The US and Germany have had large capacities since the early 2000s, and both have excelled in terms of wind power technology and achieving better efficiencies. It was only in 2009–10 that China overtook Germany and the US in terms of installed capacity.

Growing in the wind

Today, wind power is a mature technology, with established reliability and cost-competitiveness across an ever-increasing number of markets, and it has grown rapidly in the past few years. With the offshore market gaining traction across the globe, it is expected to become one of the biggest market segments of renewable power in the coming years. Offshore wind technology is currently at a growing stage of development; construction costs are high, and more advanced materials and equipment are required. Despite this, many governments have incorporated offshore wind in their energy plans.

The rising energy demand across the globe will result in increased levels of carbon dioxide emissions, posing a serious threat to the global environment, so the growth of wind power is even more desirable, as it’s a clean and emission-free power-generation technology.

Many countries are keen to promote the generation and use of wind power in order to reduce carbon emissions and achieve the Kyoto Protocol targets.

Currently, more than 90% of the global offshore wind power is installed in the water bodies of Northern Europe, and this has helped the region to keep pace with its binding targets of deriving 20% of its energy consumption from renewable sources. The governments outside of Europe have set ambitious targets for offshore wind development, and this has started to take off in China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and the US. This will be extremely beneficial for the technology, reducing market risk, increasing the supply base and allowing innovations to emerge. However, Europe is expected to continue to dominate the offshore market in the forecast period.

Offshore wind power in Europe

In 2017, the European region was the leader in the offshore wind power market and held the largest share in the global offshore wind power market of approximately 74.6%, surpassing the Americas and Asia-Pacific regions in terms of annual installations. The region added over 3.6GW of new offshore wind capacity during the year 2017, and is expected to install 19.8GW of offshore capacity during the period 2018–22. Some of the key countries in the region include Denmark, Belgium, France, Portugal and Sweden.

Portugal decommissioned the 2MW WindFloat demonstrator project in 2016. The UK had the largest amount of annual installed offshore wind capacity in Europe, representing over 40% in 2017. Germany followed with 34.2% and the Netherlands held a 16.5% share in the European region in 2017.

The UK was the top country in the European region in 2017, with an annual installation of 1.5GW. The UK has strong potential for offshore wind deployment due to its large available offshore resources and excellent policy support, and the country aims to achieve 10GW of offshore capacity by 2020. The number of new installations has grown, largely due to favourable policies and attractive concession programmes. The catalysts for installation growth have been government policies that emphasise the generation of energy through renewable sources. The country aims to cut its emissions by 80% by 2050 compared with 1990 levels. The UK Government is committed to increasing the share of renewable resources in its energy mix. A renewable energy roadmap, which was published in 2011, established the government’s target to achieve 15% gross energy consumption by 2020. Renewable energy consumption will need to increase by 17% a year in order to meet the current target.

Germany was the second largest in the European region, representing an annual offshore installed capacity of 1.2GW in 2017. In Germany, the government has outlined a clear national energy strategy to transition away from fossil fuel and nuclear power towards an energy system dominated by renewables. The Renewable Energy Act, under the Energiewende policy, outlines a goal to achieve 80% renewable electricity generation by 2050, with near-term targets of 40–45% by 2025 and 55–60% by 2035.

The German Offshore Wind Act plans to achieve 6.5GW of offshore capacity by 2020 and 15GW by 2030, and has been driven by a marine spatial plan and federal grid plan to identify sites and plan grid connection phasing. Germany is currently one of the world’s fastest-growing offshore wind markets and has been particularly successful in securing considerable market share for leading domestic suppliers, such as Siemens and Senvion, as well as regenerating several ports, which have served as hubs for offshore wind activity.