U.S. trailing, China gaining in offshore wind

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By October 2012, more than 95 GW of offshore wind capacity had been recorded, according to BTM Consult, part of Navigant's Global Energy Practice.

Of those 95 GW, 86 percent is in Europe, followed by China with 5 percent, the U.S. and South Korea have 4 percent each, and Japan claims 2 percent, the research says.

BTM is projecting that China's offshore portfolio will skyrocket, reaching at least 25 percent, given its offshore wind target of 30 GW by 2020.

Currently, the Chinese and U.S. markets are dominated by domestic market developers. And, due to the slow pace of progress in the U.S. and protectionism in Chinese waters, this is not expected to change any time soon. The report says that leading developers in South Korea and Japan are mostly utilities or industrial conglomerates.

Cash-rich utilities have been and will continue to be the drivers of most offshore wind projects, according to BTM. However, although utilities with historically deep pockets and established offshore wind experience will lead the sector in the future, utilities are seeing depleted cash resources and are seeking alternative unconventional sources of funding.

Independent Power Producers and clean energy companies are beginning to invest more in offshore wind investment and could account for 11 percent of global development. With the maturation of the offshore wind sector, industrial conglomerates, private equity groups, pension funds, and privately owned companies are also entering the market.

In Europe, in particular, offshore wind has emerged as a leading source of renewable energy and will help member states meet the EU's political and environmental targets. The report predicts that by the end of 2021, Europe will account for 63.4 percent of total global offshore wind installation and maintain its position as global market leader. Offshore wind development in Asia in the forecast period to 2016 is moderate, but rapid growth is expected in the following five year period. Offshore wind power will account for 7.7 percent of global wind power installation by the end of the prediction period.

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