Report: Rapid Growth of Offshore Wind Will Trigger Race for Ocean Space

HØVIK, Norway – The exponential growth of offshore wind power will be the main driver of a nine-fold increase in demand for ocean space by the middle of the century, according to global risk management and assurance company DNV’s Ocean’s Future to 2050 report. The report forecasts that, by midcentury, offshore wind will require ocean space that is the equivalent to the landmass of Italy. The growth will be particularly pronounced in regions with long coastlines and presently have low penetration of offshore wind. Demand for ocean space is set to grow 50-fold in the Indian Subcontinent and 30-fold in North America.

DNV says the rise of wind will be pivotal to the transformation of the “blue economy.” Currently, 80% of capital expenditure in the that economic sector is invested in offshore oil and gas, but by 2050 that number will have dropped to 25%. By then, offshore wind will receive the largest investments, accounting for half of all capital expenditure. The decreasing prominence of oil and gas will be largely responsible for capex inflows into the  blue economy being less in 2050 than today, whilst operating expenditure will increase below GDP growth. The blue economy will be more focused on Asia with China set to account for more than a quarter of capex by 2050 as it builds out its offshore wind capacity and marine aquaculture.

“The Blue Economy is entering a period of sectoral and geographic diversification,” said Remi Eriksen, group president and CEO of DNV. “Currently, the regions which benefit most from the ocean in economic terms are those with access to oil and gas fields off their coastlines. But as the world decarbonizes and the need for renewable energy grows, countries not able to be part of the age of fossil fuel can be part of the age of wind”

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DNV says the growing economic strength of Asia and the energy transition will also impact the maritime sector.  After years of faster-than-GDP growth, seaborne trade will only grow 35% to 2050, while global GDP almost doubles. Bulk will remain the largest segment in the merchant fleet, despite reduced demand for coal transportation.  Tankers will be overtaken by container vessels as the second largest segment, even if demand for gas tankers remains robust.  COVID 19 will have no long-term impact on cruise industry and berth capacity will triple by 2050.

Aquaculture production will more than double by the middle of the century, approaching the level of wild catch. But seafood (inland and marine) will account for only 9% of global protein demand in 2050.  Total asustainable nnual catch is forecast to be 95 million metric tonnes by mid-century, exceeding the maximum yield of marine capture fisheries and stressing the need for optimal fisheries management.

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