The offshore wind technical potential is an estimate of the amount of generation capacity that could be technically feasible, considering only wind speed and water depth. This is intended as an initial, high-level estimate and does not look at other technical, environmental, social, or economic constraints. Once these other constraints are considered, the realistic practical potential is only a small fraction of the total technical potential but, given the vast global offshore wind resource, even this small fraction is still a significant and abundant energy resource. Just one percent of the global offshore wind resource could generate enough electricity to meet the current global demand.
In 2019, the ESMAP-IFC Offshore Wind Development Program’s report Going Global: Expanding Offshore Wind to Emerging Markets identified 3.1 TW of offshore wind technical potential in just eight emerging markets: Brazil, India, Morocco, the Philippines, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Turkey, and Vietnam. This analysis used wind data from the Global Wind Atlas and water depth information from the General Bathymetric Chart of the Oceans (GEBCO) data.
This methodology —which is described fully in the Going Global report— makes the following assumptions:
- Regions with annual average 100-meter height wind speeds of greater than 7 meters/second are considered as technically viable (for the current performance characteristics of offshore wind turbines)
- Fixed offshore wind is suitable for water depths of less than 50m
- Floating wind farms are suited for water depths between 50 to 1,000m
- Only regions less than 200 km from shore are considered
- Constant turbine planting densities of 3 MW per km2 for wind speeds between 7–8 m/s and 4 MW per km2 for wind speeds greater than 8 m/s
- Any isolated regions <10 km2 were excluded
The same methodology was used to estimate the global technical potential and generate maps for specific World Bank Group client countries and regions with energetic offshore wind resources. The table below provides links to individual maps for 56 countries and regions. Regional maps for the Caribbean Islands, Caspian Sea, and Black Sea were also generated. In some cases, maps were generated to demonstrate an absence of any resource.
115 of the world’s countries are deemed to have technically extractable offshore wind potential -- just over 71,000 GW. Only around 20,000 GW of that total is in shallower waters suited to fixed offshore wind turbines; the rest is suited to floating offshore wind. Analysis of the world’s offshore wind resources can be found in the following links:
- Methodology: Description of the methodology used for the technical potential analysis.
- Table of Results: Fixed and floating wind technical potential estimates for 115 countries.
- GIS Shapefiles: Areas suited for fixed and floating wind development, organized by global regions [.shp file].
- Google Earth Files: Areas suited for fixed and floating wind development, organized by global regions [.kml file].
More comprehensive assessments of areas for offshore wind development are now in progress. Building upon the technical potential analyses, these assessments will include technical, environmental, social, and economic constraints to identify sites that are likely to be most suitable for offshore wind project development. Shipping traffic is a key constraint and, working in collaboration with the International Monetary Fund, the Program has developed a freely available global dataset on shipping traffic density.
The following table provides individual links to offshore wind technical potential maps for 56 countries and regions. Maps are listed in alphabetical order.
*Maps are listed in alphabetical order.
*Technical potential resource is a term used to describe the energy resource that is extractable with current technology.