Uncharted waters ahead on offshore’s long journey



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Dong has announced that it will decommission the world’s first offshore wind farm after 25 years of operation. The Vindeby project was installed in 1991, with 11 450kW machines sitting in just a few metres of water less than 2km from the Danish coast, but I remember the excitement when it was commissioned, opening a new frontier for the blossoming wind industry. 

In the intervening quarter of a century, the industry, both onshore and offshore, has changed beyond all recognition. Turbines now range up to 8MW, with dramatic increases in reliability, performance and sophistication. Last year’s
global market was more than 63GW, with total installed capacity exceeding 430GW; numbers that we could only dream about 25 years ago. Offshore still represents a small percentage of global wind capacity, growing from 1.9% in 2012 to 2.8% at the end of 2015. It was 5.4% of the market last year, up from 2.95% in 2012. It’s a different story in Europe, where offshore was nearly a quarter of the market last year and 7.8% of the EU’s total wind capacity — and it is larger than that in terms of the investment it represents
and the electricity it generates.