China Close to Overtaking UK in Offshore Wind Capacity Rankings

China installed a record 3,060 MW of new offshore wind capacity in 2020, corresponding to over half of the offshore wind capacity added globally last year, according to the latest data released by GWEC Market Intelligence.

Overall, China had 9,898 MW of installed offshore wind capacity at the end of 2020 and was just 308 MW shy of taking the top spot from the UK which had 10,206 MW of installed offshore wind capacity at the end of last year.

This was the third year in a row that China led the world in new annual offshore wind capacity, GWEC said.

The Netherlands Leads the Way in Europe

Overall, over 6 GW of new offshore wind capacity was added globally in 2020, according to GWEC.

Steady growth in Europe accounted for the majority of the remaining new capacity, led by the Netherlands which installed nearly 1.5 GW of new offshore wind in 2020, making it the second-largest market for new capacity in 2020 after China.

Belgium installed 706 MW of new capacity in 2020, the UK 483 MW, and Germany 237 MW.

The slowdown of growth in the UK is due to the gap between the Contracts for Difference (CfD) 1 and CfD 2, GWEC said.

In Germany, the slowdown is primarily caused by unfavourable conditions and a weak short-term offshore wind project pipeline.

The only new floating offshore wind capacity recorded in 2020 was also in Europe, with 17 MW installed in Portugal.

Outside of China and Europe, two other countries recorded new offshore wind capacity in 2020: South Korea (60 MW) and the US (12 MW).

China’s Offshore Wind Rush to Continue in 2021

China has now surpassed Germany in terms of cumulative installations, becoming the second-largest offshore wind globally with the UK remaining in the top spot.

”Although China was hit first by the COVID-19 crisis, the impacts on the offshore wind sector were minimal, resuming ‘busines-as-usual’ as early as March 2020. China’s record-breaking growth is expected to continue in 2021, driven by an offshore wind installation rush to meet China’s Feed-in-Tariff deadline by the end of this year,” Feng Zhao, Head of Market Intelligence and Strategy at GWEC, said.

”While Europe remains the largest offshore wind market globally, Asia Pacific will play an increasingly important role driving industry growth as major economies such as Japan and South Korea have recently established ambitious offshore wind targets. The US will also become an increasingly important market for offshore wind, as the new administration has made it clear they are working to accelerate growth of this crucial industry.”

Overall, global offshore wind capacity now exceeds 35 GW – a 106 per cent increase over the past five years alone.

”Current global offshore wind capacity has helped our society avoid 62.5 million tonnes of carbon emissions – equivalent to taking over 20 million cars off the road. The socioeconomic benefits of offshore wind are also more important than ever as countries develop their strategies for a green economic recovery, with current offshore wind capacity already providing around 700,000 jobs globally over the projects’ lifetimes,” Alastair Dutton, Chair of Global Offshore Wind Task Force at GWEC, said.

”Yet, we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg when it comes to offshore wind’s massive potential. The World Bank Group reports that there is over 71,000 GW of offshore wind potential globally with current technology, and tapping into this resource will be key to keep global warming below 1.5°C pre-industrial levels, while generating significant economic benefits. To realise this potential, industry and government collaboration will be key, along with stable policies to provide a long-term horizon for industry growth. Accelerating the commercialisation of floating offshore wind this decade will also be crucial to open new doors for the sector, and capture more wind resource than ever thought possible.”