Future material requirements for global sustainable offshore wind energy development

Chen Li*, José Mogollón, Arnold Tukker, J. Dong, D.A. von Terzi, Chunbo Zhang, Bernhard Steubing

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Offshore wind energy (OWE) is a cornerstone of future clean energy development. Yet, research into global OWE material demand has generally been limited to few materials and/or low technological resolution. In this study, we assess the primary raw material demand and secondary material supply of global OWE. It includes a wide assortment of materials, including bulk materials, rare earth elements, key metals, and other materials for manufacturing offshore wind turbines and foundations. Our OWE development scenarios consider important drivers such as growing wind turbine size, introducing new technologies, moving further to deep waters, and wind turbine lifetime extension. We show that the exploitation of OWE will require large quantities of raw materials from 2020 to 2040: 129–235 million tonnes (Mt) of steel, 8.2–14.6 Mt of iron, 3.8–25.9 Mt of concrete, 0.5–1.0 Mt of copper and 0.3–0.5 Mt of aluminium. Substantial amounts of rare earth elements will be required towards 2040, with up to 16, 13, 31 and 20 fold expansions in the current Neodymium (Nd), Dysprosium (Dy), Praseodymium (Pr) and Terbium (Tb) demand, respectively. Closed-loop recycling of end-of-life wind turbines could supply a maximum 3% and 12% of total material demand for OWE from 2020 to 2030, and 2030 to 2040, respectively. Moreover, a potential lifetime extension of wind turbines from 20 to 25 years would help to reduce material requirements by 7–10%. This study provides a basis for better understanding future OWE material requirements and, therefore, for optimizing future OWE developments in the ongoing energy transition.

Original languageEnglish
Article number112603
Number of pages13
JournalRenewable & Sustainable Energy Reviews
Publication statusPublished - 2022

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