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Cape Cod marks birth of a global offshore wind industry

The approval by the Obama administration of the US’s first offshore wind farm “marks the birth of a new phase in offshore wind power. The decision is the first step in the transformation from a European market into a new global market led by European companies,” said Christian Kjaer, chief executive of the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA).


“Europe pioneered the onshore wind industry and possesses a clear first-mover advantage in offshore wind energy, which must be retained” said Kjaer. “We are seeing strong signals from governments all over the world wanting to harness the enormous potential of offshore wind energy to produce carbon-free electricity while powering millions of households.”

The 130 turbine project at Cape Cod, totalling 420 MW of installed capacity, will provide clean electricity to 75% of households in Cape Cod and the surrounding islands. Crucially, today’s decision is likely to trigger the approval of at least half a dozen more projects along the east coast of the United States and in the Great Lakes region.

Currently, almost 100% of global offshore turbines are installed in European waters by European developers using European turbines: 830 turbines in nine countries, totalling over 2,000 MW of installed offshore capacity at the end of 2009. The UK is the market leader, and recently reached a record 1,000 MW (1 GW) in offshore wind installations.

In Europe, EWEA estimates that offshore wind projects in the pipeline – more than 100,000 MW – will provide 10% of total EU electricity demand.

In Canada, earlier this month, a power purchasing contract was awarded by the Ontario Power Authority to develop North America’s first offshore wind site.

In China, the country’s first pilot offshore wind farm started construction in 2008. The Shanghai East Sea Bridge offshore wind farm has a total installed capacity of 100 MW. It will go into operation before the inauguration of the World Expo Shanghai, which is scheduled for 1 May, 2010. Furthermore, Shi Lishan, deputy director of the new energy department under the National Energy Administration, said four wind power projects will be built – two near-shore 300 MW plants and two 200 MW facilities built on tidal flats.

In India, a report in the Economic Times highlights the nation’s long coastline and its potential for offshore wind. Major international energy companies looking for expansion opportunities are strongly interested, it claims.

Operational offshore wind farms at the end of 2009.

The European offshore wind industry – key trends and statistics (end 2009).

More information on offshore wind.

For more information contact:
Paolo Berrino, EWEA
+32 2 400 10 55