GWEC and IRENA Set Global Offshore Wind Energy Goals for 2050


The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) have announced an agenda to ensure sustainable energy for all that helps the global battle against climate change. At its heart is an ambition to increase substantially the share of offshore wind energy in the global energy mix by 2030.

The compact sets out a clear route to help governments make the fundamental changes required to achieve this ambition and meet their own NDC goals. IRENA and GWEC’s compact will help ensure no country or region is “left behind” by the sector, and make sure untapped resource potential is developed to help the world reach its 2050 goals.

The compact sets a target of 380 GW of energy from offshore wind, installed worldwide by 2030. By 2050, the target is for 2,000 GW of offshore wind installed worldwide. As of 2020, GWEC Market Intelligence calculates 35 GW of offshore wind installed capacity globally.

IRENA and GWEC have set out how they will help achieve these ambitions. Through IRENA’s Collaborative Framework on Ocean Energy/Offshore Renewables, the groups will intensify governments understanding of offshore wind, as reflected in country NDCs, and by expanding membership of the Framework more governments will be able to increase their interests in offshore wind. The compact sets out that: “Given the project development and construction timelines for offshore wind, these interventions are urgently needed”.

The compact will also see IRENA and GWEC assess the institutional and resource gaps to help the world achieve the 2030 and 2050 targets. Twinned with an increase in outreach and dialogue with policymakers in countries new to offshore wind, these ambitions should help increase the geographical spread of the sector to help ensure the world’s 2050 target is met.

This compact advances SDGs by 2030 with affordable electricity. A new fixed-bottom offshore wind capacity is forecast to become cheaper than new fossil fuel capacity early this decade, according to BloombergNEF. By replacing fossil fuel sources – which can create smog, asthma and other health issues – they can reduce carbon emissions and air pollution. They will boost economic growth with a 500 MW project, which can create 2.1 million days of work over its 25-year project lifetime. The compact supports energy security by reducing reliance on imported energy and fossil fuels, along with operating at high-capacity factors and lower variability compared to other renewable energy sources. It will also save water as a displacement of water-consuming fossil fuel-based generation.

“This compact sets out a clear framework to support world governments as they try to reach Net Zero targets,” says Ben Backwell, CEO at GWEC. “The rapid acceleration of offshore wind development in every region of the world is vital if we are to meet our collective objectives, and the message from IRENA and GWEC is clear: World leaders, the industry is here to help you make it happen.”

“Offshore wind undoubtedly plays a central role in global decarbonisation plans – offering solutions for everything from reskilling workers to providing the technology to bring new solutions like green hydrogen to scale,” continues Backwell. “However, these transitions will not happen without governments taking action, and this Compact will help world leaders do just that.”

“Offshore renewables have the potential to meet more than twenty times of today’s global power demand,” comments Francesco La Camera, director-general of Irena. “Particularly, offshore renewables constitute a critical pillar for decarbonizing energy systems and fostering a global blue economy, supporting economic growth and climate resilience. IRENA and GWEC have been close partners for many years. Today’s joint Energy Compact is ambitious, but I believe that by joining forces we can achieve the deployment of an additional 380 GW offshore wind worldwide by 2030 and 2,000 GW by 2050.”

Read the full Global Offshore Wind Energy Compact of IRENA and GWEC here.

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