Ocean's future to 2050

A sectoral and regional forecast of the Blue Economy

A new era of the Blue Economy is unfolding

Our forecast identifies key trends shaping the development of the Blue Economy. These are the highlights.

1. Offshore wind will overtake the oil and gas sector to receive the largest investments in the Blue Economy 

  • Offshore wind will grow from a small base to account for 50% of ocean capital expenditure (capex) in 2050. 
    Over the same timeframe, the oil and gas industry will shrink from 80% of total capex to just 25%. 
  • By 2050, offshore wind will provide about as much energy as offshore oil, the production of which will shrink 51%  compared with 2019 levels. 
  • Capex in the Blue Economy will reduce from USD 517 billion in 2018 to USD 461 billion in 2050. Operational expenditure (opex) will grow more slowly than global GDP.
  • Read more about the Blue Economy

2. The Blue Economy will be dominated by Asia 

  • Greater China will establish itself as the global powerhouse of the Blue Economy and its leading investor by 2050. 
  • Europe will maintain a strong position, growing from 11% to 14% of capex in the next three decades.
  • Read more about the Blue Economy

3. There will be a 9-fold increase in demand for ocean space for aquaculture and energy production 

  • Offshore wind will require 82% of the total occupied area by 2050. 
  • Growth in demand for ocean area from aquaculture and energy production in the Indian 
  • Subcontinent, is set to increase 50-fold. In North America, and the Middle East and North Africa spatial requirements will grow 30-fold. 
  • Read more about Spatial competition

4. The energy transition and increasing purchasing power of Asia will alter outlook for shipping

  • After years of faster-than-GDP growth, seaborne trade will only grow 35% to 2050, while global GDP almost doubles.
    This is due to increased consumption in Asia combined with the decline of coal and oil transport. 
  • The merchant fleet sees bulk remaining the largest segment in tonnage, even as the coal trade declines, while tankers are overtaken by container vessels as the second largest segment. Gas carriers will outpace oil product tankers. 
  • New special vessel segments will emerge to serve the offshore wind industry. Special vessels will grow 31% in tonnage and 53% in value to 2050. 
  • COVID 19 will have no long-term impact on cruise industry and berth capacity will triple by 2050.
  • Read more about Ocean Energy

5. Aquaculture production to match capture fisheries by 2050

  • Aquaculture production will more than double by the middle of the century, approaching the level of wild catch.
    But seafood (inland and marine) account for only 9% of global protein demand in 2050. 
  • We forecast total annual catch to be 95 Mt by mid-century, exceeding the maximum sustainable yield of marine capture fisheries and stressing the need for optimal fisheries management. 
  • Read more about Food and Aquaculture

Dive deeper: download the full Ocean's Future to 2050 report

PDF, 104 pages