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Global offshore wind industry joins forces with the Carbon Trust to decarbonise and scale up sustainably

31 Jan 2023

SSE Renewables has joined forces with bp, EnBW, Fred Olsen Seawind, Ørsted, Parkwind, RWE, Scottish Power Renewables, Shell, Total Energies and Vattenfall in partnership with Carbon Trust to make future offshore wind more sustainable.

Each developer designs, builds and operates wind farms globally, including across Europe, North America and Asia, and collectively represent around a quarter of global installed capacity.

They will work in collaboration with the Carbon Trust as part of the new Offshore Wind Sustainability Joint Industry Programme to develop the first industry-backed methodology and guidance to measure and address the carbon emissions associated with offshore wind farms throughout their lifecycle, including emissions from the manufacturing of materials and installation of wind farms.

The aim of this work is to help the global offshore wind industry scale as sustainably as possible and continue its important contribution towards meeting the world’s Net Zero target by 2050 and limiting the most extreme impacts of climate change. A standardised methodology will ensure the scale of installation needed is delivered in a low carbon way and encourage comparability across developers and assets.

This programme is the fifth addition to the Carbon Trust’s renewable energy innovation platform which consists of a portfolio of R&D activities including the Offshore Wind Accelerator (OWA)the Floating Wind Joint Industry Programme,  the Integrator and the Offshore Renewables Joint Industry Programme.

By the end of 2021, 55GW of offshore wind capacity was installed globally, with over a third of this being installed within 2021.1 However, according to the IEA, an additional 70-80GW will need to be installed every year from 2030 in order to achieve Net Zero by 2050.2

As demand for renewable energy grows, the offshore wind industry needs to scale up rapidly to meet this level of ambition, and this must be done in a sustainable way. Building on the decarbonisation efforts at an individual wind farm level, a collaborative industry effort will be key to creating a consistent approach to account for carbon impacts, increase transparency of supply chain emissions and accelerate engagement across the value chain. This will support the delivery of the scale of installation needed, with the benefit of a strong understanding of lifecycle carbon emissions.

While offshore wind energy generation has a significantly lower carbon impact than fossil fuels, the sector must also work collaboratively to de-couple its own value chain from carbon and resource-intensive models of production, deployment and operation, addressing key hotspots such as steel, cement and fuels.

"SSE Renewables is building more offshore wind than any other company in the world right now, with plans to increase our renewables output fivefold by 2031. As we accelerate growth in the years ahead, it’s crucial we’re doing so in a way that’s truly sustainable for people and planet. We won’t achieve our sustainability goals alone, which is why this industry collaboration through the Carbon Trust is a critical step towards ensuring a fair, just, and genuinely green transition to a net zero world."

Paul Cooley Director of Offshore Wind (Global), SSE Renewables

"Global climate targets cannot be met without stepping up renewable energy generation, and offshore wind is particularly crucial to the world’s transition away from fossil fuels. Our experience working with the industry through various joint industry projects is proof that collaboration is key. Over the last fourteen years, we have been focused on scaling up the offshore wind market through our Joint Industry Programmes, such as the Offshore Wind Accelerator and the Floating Wind Joint Industry Programme.

Now it’s time to turn our attention to supporting innovation and scaling up sustainably in order to create a more resilient and competitive industry. We are delighted to be collaborating with such a global set of developers, whose collective voice has the potential to take the industry to the next level."

Jan Matthiesen Director, Offshore Wind at the Carbon Trust,

The first project delivered as part of the Offshore Wind Sustainability Joint Industry Programme will:

  1. Develop the first standardised methodology to enable developers to calculate the lifecycle emissions of their offshore wind assets, including their upstream supply chain emissions, the construction phase and the operation phase.
  2. Engage with the industry to improve data quality and availability and promote greater supply chain transparency.
  3. Identify key carbon emission drivers and hotspots in the offshore wind value chain and wind farm life cycle.

The programme officially kicks off in January 2023 with the methodology expected to be released for use across the industry by 2025.