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Offshore wind power is poised to grow rapidly and fill an important role in the world's renewable electricity mix, a new International Energy Agency report found.

What’s new: Although offshore wind provides just 0.3% of global electricity today, IEA predicts within about two decades it will increase at least 15-fold and make up between 3.1% to 5.4%, depending on how aggressively countries enact policies to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Expand chart
Adapted from IEA; Chart: Axios Visuals

Where it stands: The majority of current offshore wind projects are in Europe, but China added more offshore wind capacity in 2018 than the rest of the world.

  • China — Earth's biggest CO2 emitter — has barely used that capacity to generate power. The IEA's executive director, Fatih Birol, says that local air pollution — which is already fueling the country's embrace of other cleaner sources of energy — will drive an offshore boom there.
  • In its Sustainable Development Scenario (SDS), which acts as a benchmark for climate policies aligned with the goals of the Paris agreement, IEA writes that emissions avoided with offshore wind would equal the current amount avoided with zero-emitting nuclear power.

Why it matters: Global carbon dioxide emissions from energy generation, a lead driver in climate change, reached a record high in 2018, a May IEA report shows.

One level deeper: IEA says offshore wind has more attractive characteristics compared to other renewable energy sources that can help combat global warming, because:

  1. It's windier more regularly offshore and thus can provide more power consistently compared to onshore wind and solar.
  2. Public sentiment is likely to be friendlier toward offshore wind than with onshore renewable energy, which could be built near people's homes.

Yes, but: Obstacles, like high current costs that outpace other electricity sources, will likely prevent the full technical potential of offshore wind.

  • The report finds that the resource will be cost-competitive in China by 2030 — and soon in Europe — though the U.S. may take longer than that.
  • Recent delays in the U.S. federal review process of offshore wind indicate opposition, but there's less in waters than on land to energy facilities.

What they're saying: "Some may question why I decided to devote so much of the IEA's time and effort to this report on offshore wind," Birol says in the report. "The reason is that its potential is near limitless."

Go deeper: Global carbon dioxide emissions reached record high in 2018

Go deeper

2 hours ago - Health

Ipsos poll: COVID trick-or-treat

Data: Axios/Ipsos poll; Note ±3.3% margin of error for the total sample size; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

About half of Americans are worried that trick-or-treating will spread coronavirus in their communities, according to this week's installment of the Axios/Ipsos Coronavirus Index.

Why it matters: This may seem like more evidence that the pandemic is curbing our nation's cherished pastimes. But a closer look reveals something more nuanced about Americans' increased acceptance for risk around activities in which they want to participate.

Updated 10 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: The good and bad news about antibody therapies — Fauci: Hotspots have materialized across "the entire country."
  2. World: Belgium imposes lockdown, citing "health emergency" due to influx of cases.
  3. Economy: Conference Board predicts economy won’t fully recover until late 2021.
  4. Education: Surge threatens to shut classrooms down again.
  5. Technology: The pandemic isn't slowing tech.
  6. Travel: CDC replaces COVID-19 cruise ban with less restrictive "conditional sailing order."
  7. Sports: High school football's pandemic struggles.
  8. 🎧Podcast: The vaccine race turns toward nationalism.
Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
Updated 11 hours ago - Economy & Business

Dunkin' Brands agrees to $11B Inspire Brands sale

Photo: Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

Dunkin' Brands, operator of both Dunkin' Donuts and Baskin-Robbins, agreed on Friday to be taken private for nearly $11.3 billion, including debt, by Inspire Brands, a restaurant platform sponsored by private equity firm Roark Capital.

Why it matters: Buying Dunkin’ will more than double Inspire’s footprint, making it one of the biggest restaurant deals in the past 10 years. This could ultimately set up an IPO for Inspire, which already owns Arby's, Jimmy John's and Buffalo Wild Wings.