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Windy waters

Illustration by Adrian Forrow

Putting wind turbines in the ocean remains more expensive than onshore development, but this hasn’t slowed growth of the offshore wind market – at least not in Europe, where the sector is experiencing its biggest year yet.

A total of 584 offshore wind turbines were put into service in the Netherlands, Germany and the United Kingdom during the first half of this year, adding 2,300 megawatts of capacity to the European grid.

North America, on the other hand, continues to have no offshore wind assets in operation, despite huge potential. Construction began in July on what is expected to be the first – the five-turbine, 30-megawatt DeepWater Wind project off the coast of Rhode Island.

Globally, the United Kingdom remains an offshore wind powerhouse, accounting for slightly more than half of all offshore wind capacity worldwide, according to research firm GlobalData. The U.K. is expected to remain in the lead until at least 2025 as its capacity expands from 4,500 megawatts in 2014 to more than 23,000 megawatts. That’s a compound annual growth rate of 30.5 per cent.

Behind the U.K. is Denmark and Germany, with 14.5 per cent and 11.9 per cent of current global capacity respectively.

Where’s Canada on the global offshore wind map? Despite projects eyed off the coasts of B.C., Newfoundland and the Great Lakes, there has been little movement. An inexplicably long offshore wind moratorium in Ontario and difficulty getting power purchase contracts has left Canada far behind in this growing global market.

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