Fostering a blue economy: Offshore renewable energy


December 2020
ISBN : 978-92-9260-288-8

Offshore renewable energy – including offshore wind and solar power, as well as emerging ocean energy technologies – could support sustainable long-term development and drive a vibrant blue economy. For countries and communities around the world, offshore renewables can provide reliable, stable electricity, as well as support water desalination and aquaculture.

This report from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) considers the status and prospects of offshore renewable sources and recommends key actions to accelerate their uptake.

The development of renewable sources and technologies at sea promises to spur new industries and create jobs in line with the global energy transition. Offshore wind towers, with either fixed or floating foundations, and floating solar photovoltaic (PV) arrays offer clear technological and logistical synergies with the existing offshore oil and gas industry.

Offshore renewables could provide clean power and ensure energy security for small island developing states (SIDS) and many of the least-developed countries (LDCs).

Among other findings:

  • The predictability of power generation from ocean energy technologies complements the variable character solar PV and wind.
  • Desalination of seawater using renewable energy sources – including solar and wind power, but also direct solar and geothermal heat – can further enhance the sustainable blue economy.
  • Renewable-based shipping, powered with advanced biofuels, hydrogen or synthetic fuels as alternatives to oil, offer further synergies with offshore renewable energy.
  • Islands and coastal territories could adopt renewable-based electric propulsion for short-distance (< 100 km) sea transport.

Two reports, released concurrently, examine the potential for offshore renewables:

  • Fostering a blue economy: Offshore renewable energy
  • Innovation outlook: Ocean energy technologies

See an overview their key findings.

Key findings are also available in Arabic (عربي), Chinese (中文), French (Français), German (Deutsch), Japanese (日本語), Portuguese (Português). Russian (Русский), and Spanish (Español).

IRENA prepared the two studies in support of the SIDS Lighthouses Initiative.