The offshore wind industry installed 6.1GW of capacity in 2020, down slightly from a record 6.24GW in 2019, according to the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC), which launches its flagship Global Offshore Wind Report 2021.
GWEC expects a new record year in 2021, as China’s offshore wind sector rushes to install 7.5GW ahead of the expiry of current feed in tariffs (FITs).
China led the world in new installations for the third year in a row with more than 3 GW of offshore wind grid connected in 2020. 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, followed by Belgium (706 MW).
The report forecasts 235 GW of new offshore wind capacity will be installed over the next decade under current policies. That capacity is seven times bigger than the current market size, and is a 15 per cent increase on the previous year’s forecasts.
This is 11 per cent of the capacity required to meet net zero targets by 2050, and the world has so far installed only 2 per cent of the offshore wind capacity that will be needed by the middle of this century to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.
While some countries across the world have already put in place comprehensive offshore wind targets and strategies, these targets across the world only account for 560 GW.
Based on scenarios published by the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the world needs 2,000 GW of offshore wind capacity by 2050 to have a chance of keeping global temperature rises under 1.5°C pre-industrial levels.
“The offshore wind industry continues to break records, reduce prices, and innovate to new heights and depths while creating significant industrial and socioeconomic benefits for countries capturing its potential,” Ben Backwell, CEO at GWEC said.
“Looking to the next three decades, Asia will need to emerge as the world’s most prominent offshore wind region to deliver this massive scaling-up of capacity, accounting for 40 percent of the 2,000 GW needed by 2050, followed by Europe with 32 percent and North America with 18 percent,” Feng Zhao, Head of Market Intelligence and Strategy at GWEC, said.