The offshore wind sector forms 1.22% of the global wind power market. Offshore wind power is being increasingly explored across the world for its high yield due to stronger and more consistent winds compared to land and the scope to construct massive GW-scale projects. Currently, offshore wind energy installations form a small part of the overall wind power market worldwide. However, huge potential exists for offshore wind to become one of the major sources of energy in the future.

Currently, the offshore wind energy industry faces a number of challenges. These include, a lack of skilled personnel, lack of sophisticated technology catering to offshore requirements, shortage of appropriate auxiliary services (such as crane vessels), competition for space with other marine users such as oil and gas exploration companies, incompatibility with existing grid infrastructure and insufficient integration into the energy system. The offshore wind industry needs to leverage the technical expertise of other sectors, such as oil and gas engineering and technology, the logistical skills of offshore service providers and transmission system operators, and the infrastructure technology of the power industry for further development.

Europe dominates the global offshore wind power market with a cumulative capacity of 1,471MW (2008). The UK and Denmark together account for more than 50% of the global offshore wind market. The UK leads the offshore wind market with a share of 39.30% and an installed capacity of 591.2MW followed by Denmark with a share of 28.14% and a capacity of 423.35MW. This is followed by the Netherlands with a share of 16.40% and an installed capacity of 246.8MW and Sweden with a share of 8.90% and a cumulative installed capacity of 134MW. Apart from nine European countries, Japan, China and the US have installed offshore wind farms on an experimental basis.

Global, Annual and Cumulative Offshore Wind Energy Installed Capacity, MW, 2001-08
Year Annual Installed Capacity (MW) Cumulative Installed Capacity (MW)
2001 51 86
2002 170 256
2003 259 515
2004 92 607
2005 90 697
2006 201 898
2007 212 1,110
2008 365 1,475
Source: GlobalData: Global Offshore Wind Market Analysis and Forecasts to 2015

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