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A total of 5.314 GW of offshore wind projects were in operation at the end of October, according to Navigant Consulting's recently released Offshore Report 2013.

The U.K. continues to lead the offshore wind energy market, with more than 2 GW of capacity installed, followed by Denmark, with more than 830 MW; and the Netherlands, with almost 250 MW. Germany and China both began installing offshore wind turbines in 2009 and continue to expand their portfolios.

Navigant Consulting predicts that average new installations will grow by 81.6% annually through 2016 and by 15.6% annually between 2017 and 2021.

Furthermore, the report finds that as of October, more than 95 GW of offshore wind capacity was in the project pipeline, 86% of which was in Europe. Taking into account China’s offshore wind target of 30 GW by 2020 and project proposals made at the provincial level, however, it is expected that China's offshore wind power development portfolio will soon reach at least 25% of the global total.

Currently, the Chinese and U.S. markets are dominated by domestic market developers, and due to the slow pace of progress in the U.S. and protectionism in Chinese waters, this situation is not expected to change in the foreseeable future, the report concludes.

2011 saw the continued dominance of Siemens in the European offshore wind market, but several new players are appearing in both Europe and China. With many years’ experience, Siemens and Vestas remain the market leaders in offshore wind turbines, supplying machines to most of the latest developments.

However, according to Navigant Consulting, it is likely that companies such as REpower, Areva Wind, Bard and Sinovel will see more turbines installed in the coming years and that new entrants from Asia - notably from China, Japan and South Korea - will soon make their mark on the offshore wind market.

Looking ahead
Offshore wind projects have relied on cash-rich utilities - a trend that is expected to continue, Navigant says. However, the report finds that although utilities with historically deep pockets and established offshore wind experience will lead the sector in the future, utilities are seeing depleted cash resources and are seeking alternative sources of funding.

In addition, independent power producers and clean energy companies are beginning to show more confidence in offshore wind energy investment. According to the report, both types of companies will account for 11% of global development if all projected wind farms are installed according to plan.

In addition, with the maturation of the offshore wind sector, industrial conglomerates, private equity groups, pension funds and privately owned companies are entering the market, helping to increase market investment.

Furthermore, the report predicts that by the end of 2021, Europe will account for 63.4% of total global offshore wind installations, and the continent will maintain its position as the global market leader.

Offshore wind power development in Asia is forecast to be moderate through 2016, but rapid growth is expected in the following five-year period. Offshore wind power will account for 7.7% of global wind power installations by the end of the prediction period, the firm adds.



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