Bente Pretlove DNV cropped 1.jpgBente Pretlove: "Report underscores need to balance protection, productivity and social development" (source: DNV)

World - ‘Coexistence is essential:’ report shows demand for ocean space will grow fivefold by 2050

Collaboration between ocean industries will need to intensify for the rapid buildout of offshore wind and aquaculture to coexist sustainably with other industries and the ecosystem

According to DNV’s Spatial Competition Forecast, the amount of ocean space occupied by offshore installations will grow fivefold by 2050. This will be driven by offshore wind, which will account for 80% of stationary infrastructure at sea by mid-century, followed by aquaculture (13%) and oil and gas (5%).

“Although ocean space is plentiful, industrial activity will primarily be located close to shore, which will heighten the need for ocean coexistence,” said DNV.

To enable stakeholders to gauge the demand for ocean space, DNV has developed the Spatial Competition Index. According to this index, the North Sea is the area in Europe which will see greatest competition, due to the large number of shipping lanes and ports, as well as the strong presences of the fishing, aquaculture, oil and gas and wind industries. Installations for offshore energy and food production will cover 23% of the area between 2-50 km from shore in water depths less than 50 m.

Greater China’s emergence as the powerhouse of the blue economy is also reflected in offshore construction. It will account for a third of all global infrastructure built at sea by 2050, mainly due to the sharp increase in offshore wind, which will make up 13% of the region’s electricity production.  

The Indian Subcontinent sees the strongest growth in area covered by stationary infrastructure, as the region experiences fast offshore wind development requiring vast areas, whereas historically, offshore oil and gas and marine aquaculture are negligible in this region.

Globally, the area occupied by fixed offshore wind will grow from about 9,000 km2 today to about 242,000 km2 by mid-century. Floating offshore wind will grow from a low 15 km2 today to more than 33,000 km2 by 2050. Compared with bottom-fixed installations, floating offshore wind can potentially ease some of the tensions between offshore wind and fisheries, as it takes renewable energy production out of the way of the fishing fleet operating on shallow banks.

“The ocean is crucial for the production of sustainable food and energy, but at the same time we must tread carefully, as many ocean ecosystems are already under huge stress,” said DNV ocean space programme director Bente Pretlove.  

“This report underscores the urgent need to balance protection, productivity, and social development objectives for a sustainable Blue Economy. Developers that are most adept at early stakeholder engagement, spatial efficiency, flexible coexistence, and the pursuit of sustainability are likely to be most competitive. Coexistence is essential for the sustainable growth of the Blue Economy.”

DNV’s Spatial Competition Forecast builds on the findings of the previously published Ocean’s Future to 2050. The results are based on what DNV forecasts to be the most likely energy mix in 2050 and not what is required to reach net zero. To limit global warming to two degrees, the amount of offshore wind in Europe, for example, would need to double.

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