The global offshore wind industry had its second-best year ever in 2020, installing more than 6 GW of new capacity, keeping growth on track despite the adverse effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, as felt in other energy sectors
Growth was driven by a record year in China, which led the world in new annual offshore wind capacity for the third year in a row, installing more than half of new offshore wind capacity in 2020.
According to the latest data released by the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC), steady growth in Europe accounted for the majority of remaining new capacity, led by the Netherlands which installed nearly 1.5 GW in 2020, making it the second-largest market for new capacity in 2020 after China.
Other European offshore wind markets also experienced stable growth, with Belgium (706 MW), the UK (483 MW), and Germany (237 MW), all installing new capacity in 2020. The slowdown of growth in the UK was due to the gap between the contracts for difference (CfD) 1 and CfD 2. In Germany, the slowdown was 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).
Overall, global offshore wind capacity now exceeds 35 GW – a 10% increase over the past five years. China has now surpassed Germany in terms of cumulative installations, becoming the second-largest market for offshore wind globally with the UK remaining in the top spot.
GWEC head of market intelligence and strategy Feng Zhao said, “Continued growth of the offshore wind industry globally throughout the pandemic is testament to the resilience of this booming industry.
“Although China was hit first by the Covid-19 crisis, the impacts on the offshore wind sector were minimal, with business 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 the country’s feed-in tariff deadline by the end of 2021.
“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.”
GWEC global offshore wind taskforce chair Alastair Dutton said, “Offshore wind is cementing its role as one of the most crucial technologies to decarbonise our energy system and achieve net zero, but we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg when it comes to its massive potential.”