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Offshore Wind Energy

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Activities of the offshore wind farm sector can be broken down by lifecycle activities, including Development and consenting, Design and Manufacturing, Construction and installation, Operation and maintenance & Decommissioning.

Basic facts

  • Gross value added: €36.1billion EU’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2016[1]
  • Jobs created: 262,712 [2]
  • State of the sector: Growing[3]
  • Presence across sea basins: North Sea, Baltic Sea Atlantic, especially Celtic Seas[4]
  • Land sea interaction occurs via connections to land-based grid systems and through ports for constructions and maintenance
  • Different wind characteristics during seasons
  • Lifetime of installation varies between 25-30 years[5] whereas development time is between 7-10 years[6]

Frequently asked questions [20]

Specific FAQs regarding this sector can be found at the bottom of the page. The following questions provide overall information on current spatial needs and anticipated future developments.

What are the present spatial needs of the Offshore Wind Energy sector?

The spatial set up of an Offshore Wind Farm (OWF) is important to understand the spatial needs of the sector. In locating an offshore wind farm, consideration must be given not only to the turbines themselves, but also the connections between turbines, the substation, and efficient connection to the grid on land (see figure below).

Wind Farm Components and their Layout

Figure: Wind Farm Components and their Layout. Source[7].

The spatial arrangement of the individual turbines is also important in the development of an offshore wind farm[8]. Wind turbines extract energy from the wind and downstream there is a wake where wind speed is reduced, affecting the turbines downwind. A dense wind farm with turbines close to each other might seem spatially and economically the best option, but the wake might make the development less profitable.

Which anticipated future developments of the industry are relevant to MSP?

  • New policy developments to stimulate offshore wind developments. These include renewable energy polices at global levels (Paris agreement), European level (EU energy policy[9]) and national targets, which will increase demand for space for offshore energy production.
  • Industrial developments including:
    • technological advances which will allow for deeper water installations[10] which otherwise where previously inaccessible;
    • new designs and optimization to enable increased turbine capacity[11], reduce project costs and at the same time decrease environmental impact; and
    • new technologies, such as floating[12], and technological innovation on energy storage and distribution[13] will contribute to the deployment of new farms and increase the potential of offshore wind.
  • Financial developments: Because of reduced development costs and an increased confidence of the economic potential of offshore wind, investments are ought to increase in OWFs and, consequently, increase their need for space.

Recommendations for MSP processes in support of the sector

  • MSP planners should consider specific planning criteria for offshore wind farms, including water depth, wind speed, connections to land-based grids, etc. Please see the long version of the sector fiche for more information.[14]
  • Design criteria for offshore wind farms should also be taken into account, such as arrangement of turbines to reduce wake effects. Please see the long version of the sector fiche for more information.[15]
  • MSP can support offshore wind development in diverse ways, such as by helping establish consistency in policy and processes.[16] Please see the long version of the sector fiche for more information[17].

For more information

For more information, please visit the long-version of the sector fiche which includes further detailed information, resources and references. 


[1] Deloitte (2017). Local impact, global leadership. The impact of wind energy on jobs and the EU economy.

[2] Ibid.

[3] WindEurope (2017). The European offshore wind industry. Key trends and statistics 2016.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Bouty, C., Ziegler, L., Schafhirt, S., Muskulus, M. (2017). Lifetime extension for large offshore wind farms: Is it enough to reassess fatigue for selected design positions?. Poster presented at the EERA DeepWind’2017 14th Deep Sea Offshore Wind R&D Conference. Trondheim, 18 – 21 January 2017. 

Deep water - The next step for offshore wind energy

[6] The Crown Estate (2010). A Guide to an Offshore Wind Farm.…

[7] Malhotra, S. (2007). Selection, Design and Construction Guidelines for Offshore Wind Turbine Foundations. PB Research & Innovation Report.

[8] Dvorak, P. (2015). How turbulent winds abuse wind turbine drivetrains.

[9] EU Parliament (n.d.). Review of the Renewable Energy Directive 2009/28/EC to adapt it to the EU 2030 Climate and Energy Targets.…

[10] EWEA (2013). Deep water The next step for offshore wind energy.…

[11] Wiser, R., Hand, M., Seel, J., Paulos, B. (2016). Reducing Wind Energy Costs through Increased Turbine Size: Is the Sky the Limit?. Electricity Markets and Policy Group. Berkeley Lab.

[12] WindEurope (2017). The European offshore wind industry. Key trends and statistics 2016.

[13] Ambrose, J. (2017). Dong Energy plugs offshore wind farm into world-first battery system.…

[14] /sites/default/files/sector/pdf/mspforbluegrowth_sectorfiche_offshorewind.pdf

[15] /sites/default/files/sector/pdf/mspforbluegrowth_sectorfiche_offshorewind.pdf

[16] Reichardt, K., Rogge, K. (2014). How the policy mix and its consistency impact innovation: findings from company case studies on offshore wind in Germany. Working Paper Sustainability and Innovation No. S 7/2014. Fraunhofer ISI. 41pp.…

[17] /sites/default/files/sector/pdf/mspforbluegrowth_sectorfiche_offshorewind.pdf


Frequently Asked Questions