Offshore Wind Power Seen Growing by Record 4.2 Gigawatts in 2015

Wind-power developers are expected to install a record 4.2 gigawatts of offshore turbines this year, according to a Bloomberg New Energy Finance report.

That’s double the 2.1 gigawatts added in 2013, with Germany expected to lead installations in coastal waters with more than 2.3 gigawatts this year, followed by 1 gigawatt in the U.K., the London-based research company said in a report Friday.

The jump comes after delays last year shifted some project completions into this year, and will continue to grow as the technology becomes more accepted, Tom Harries, a wind analyst for BNEF in London, said in an interview.

“Offshore wind installation is increasing year-on-year until at least 2020,” Harries said. “There’s increased confidence that the technology is working and the cost of the technology is coming down.”

The total amount of offshore wind power in operation will reach 48 gigawatts by 2020, growing at a compound annual rate of 53 percent, according to the report.

Installing turbines in the harsh marine environment is more challenging than on land, making the electricity more expensive. The levelized cost of energy for offshore wind farms is now about $179 a megawatt-hour, down from $202 in the second half of last year, in part because of currency fluctuations, according to the report. Onshore wind power costs about $85 a megawatt-hour.

“A few years ago, people thought about offshore wind as an extension of onshore wind,” Harries said. “Then they realized that this is a different kind of beast.”

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