China powers growth of global offshore wind industry: GWEC

Moray East offshore wind farm 

The global offshore wind industry had its second-best year ever in 2020 installing over 6 GW of new capacity, driven by a record year in China, according to the latest data released by GWEC Market Intelligence.

China led the world in new annual offshore wind capacity for the third year in a row, and installed over half of the new offshore wind capacity globally last year.

Steady growth in Europe accounted for the majority of 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.

Other European offshore wind markets also experienced stable growth last year, with Belgium (706 MW), the UK (483 MW), and Germany (237 MW), all installing new capacity in 2020.

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

Global offshore wind capacity now exceeds 35 GW – a 106 per cent increase over the past 5 years alone. China has surpassed Germany in terms of cumulative installations, becoming the second-largest offshore wind globally with the UK remaining in the top spot.

“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,” says Feng Zhao, head of Market Intelligence and Strategy at GWEC.

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 become an increasingly important market for offshore wind.