World Bank to boost offshore wind energy

Image: IISD Reporting Services

World Bank Group has announced its plans to launch a new program aimed at fast-tracking offshore wind energy in developing countries.

The International Finance Corporation (IFC) will join the group in helping emerging markets assess their offshore wind potential, providing technical assistance to develop projects that are ready for investment by renewable energy investors.

The announcement presents opportunities for countries with strong offshore wind resources such as South Africa, Brazil, and Vietnam, among others. South Africa’s technical potential for fixed and floating offshore wind is 356 gigawatts.

“Offshore wind is a clean, reliable and secure source of energy with massive potential to transform the energy mix in countries that have great wind resources. We have seen it work in Europe – we can now make use of global experience to scale up offshore wind projects in emerging markets,” said Riccardo Puliti, senior director and head of energy and extractives at the World Bank.

The $5 million program, led by the World Bank’s Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP), was initiated after a $26 million grant from the UK government to help low- and middle-income countries implement environmentally sustainable energy solutions.

ESMAP and the IFC will work in cooperation with the Global Wind Energy Council and its Offshore Wind Task Force, which brings together leading offshore wind developers, equipment manufacturers and service providers.

ESMAP will also ensure cooperation between public and private sector partners to undertake technical studies and develop national strategies to facilitate the adoption of cost-competitive technologies.

According to IFC director, Bertrand de la Borde, the company is looking forward to working with the private sector to open up new investment opportunities.

“We see great opportunity for offshore wind development at scale and developing countries could benefit from this increasingly competitive source of renewable energy,” De la Borde added.

The program is set to bring together governments, commercial developers and wind energy experts to lay the groundwork for a pipeline of new projects that can be supported by World Bank or IFC financing, representing a significant opportunity for cost-competitive, large-scale fixed or floating offshore wind projects located close to areas of high energy demand.