Offshore wind is not progressing as fast as many would have hoped, making its future outlook "uncertain", the secretary general of the World Wind Energy Association said at an industry gathering in Bonn, Germany, on Thursday.
Presenting his organisation's World Wind Energy Report 2012, Stefan Gsaenger said that offshore wind had reached 5.4GW of global installed capacity at the end of 2012. While an impressive 1.9GW had been added in that year alone, the 5.4GW total was still only 1.9% of global wind capacity, he said.
"In contrast to past onshore wind forecasts that were usually too pessimistic, offshore forecasts have tended to be over-optimistic," he added.
Expansion in 2012 was almost only in the UK at 1.4GW, followed by Belgium with 185MW and China with 167MW. Germany and Denmark only added tens of megawatts each, according to the report. These figures are roughly in line with those presented last month by the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC).
"This reflects the many uncertainties and the vulnerability to any changes in framework conditions," Gsaenger said. European players, and especially Germany, are mostly behind their offshore wind forecast. South Korea and Japan have announced projects but have yet to implement.
Gsaenger was more positive about China. It will likely continue to invest, he said, as its offshore projects can be seen as decentralised wind energy. China hit transmission network problems in connection with its centralised very large onshore wind bases, such as in Mongolia.