Permitting delays could massively slow offshore wind growth

Chief Europe Correspondent
Source: DNV Energy Transition Outlook 2023.

The amount of offshore wind poised to be built around the world each year within this decade is set to be about 30% less than what could have been built without permitting delays, according to a new report from consultancy DNV. 

Permitting bottlenecks for renewable energy projects have been getting more attention from policymakers over the last year, but more solutions are needed to speed up installations, the Oslo-based organization writes in its recent Energy Transition Outlook 2023. 

The global offshore wind industry is facing a host of challenges, including permitting delays but also surging inflation and supply chain bottlenecks. The European Commission announced measures last week seeking to help its ailing sector, and top U.S. government officials have also indicated they’re trying to do more to help the fledgling American sector. 

Check out all of Cipher’s coverage about permitting delays, social acceptance and related topics.

The chart above highlights how global offshore wind capacity could grow over the next seven years if projects face no permitting delays — and how current permitting delays could hold back installations. 

In the next couple of years, the gap between the two scenarios is not much, but by 2029 it becomes so large that the potential amount of capacity that could be built without permitting delays is more than double what is most likely to be built, DNV found. 

Total installed wind power capacity around the world in 2022 was 950 gigawatts (GW), the majority of which consisted of onshore wind turbines. Wind capacity is expected to grow to 1,950 GW by 2030 and to 6,400 GW by mid-century under the “most likely future” scenario, according to the analysis, which includes existing permitting delays. 

China stands to lead in both onshore and fixed offshore wind (with turbines anchored to the ocean floor), while Europe is shaping up to be a leader in floating offshore wind power. 

It can take up to 10 years to build a wind energy project, especially offshore, according to the analysis. It’s a challenge Cipher has written about, including how antiquated permitting procedures across the European Union are holding projects back.