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China to overtake the UK as having the largest installed offshore wind capacity, says new GWEC report
At the end of 2020, global offshore wind capacity had grown 14 times higher than a decade ago, according to a new Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) report. New capacity was stable last year at 6.1 GW, roughly equivalent to 2019, and was apparently ‘not heavily impacted’ by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The future looks buoyant, with expansion of wind energy forecast in Europe, the US and particularly in Asia. China will be a substantial part of the market throughout this decade and beyond, notes the 2021 GWEC report, and will overtake the UK as having the largest installed capacity. ‘However, other markets within the region are moving from early stages to concerted deployment,’ notes Alastair Dutton, Chair of the Global Offshore Wind Task Force, GWEC.
Over the coming decade, floating wind is expected to compete with fixed foundation systems, trebling the size of the addressable market. New energy islands will also be deployed. This concept has moved forward in Denmark with locations in the North Sea and Baltic Sea identified and survey work commenced. There are plans to have first phases operational in the early 2030s. Hydrogen production and power-to-X will also be expanding.
In 2021 GWEC expects installed offshore wind capacity to more than double the 2020 figure, driven mostly by a boost in China where projects seek to secure the feed-in-tariff that expires at the end of this year. GWEC estimates that offshore wind will reach 20% of global wind capacity by 2025.
Both the International Energy Agency (IEA) and International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) have mapped out roadmaps that predict wind and solar energy will supply around 70% of energy generation by 2050, by dramatic scale-up to deliver deep emissions reductions. ‘From now to 2050, offshore wind will be a central plank of global decarbonisation, transforming the electricity system in generation, infrastructure, flexibility and production of green fuels like hydrogen,’ says the report.
So, where will offshore wind be built by 2050?
GWEC recognises that: ‘We have only begun to scratch the surface of offshore wind potential. With 35 GW installed today, primarily in Europe and China, offshore wind comprises less than 0.5% of global installed electricity capacity. Nonetheless, the offshore wind resource available worldwide is formidable.’
The World Bank has identified more than 71,000 GW of technical resource potential available worldwide – nearly 10 times the world’s current installed electricity capacity. Based on IRENA’s target of 2,000 GW, which would be required to achieve carbon neutrality and sustain a Paris Agreement-compliant pathway, GWEC foresees Asia emerging as the world’s most prominent offshore wind region, home to nearly 40% of installations by 2050, followed by Europe (32%), North America (18%), Latin America (6%), the Pacific region (4%) and Africa and the Middle East (2%).
Photo: Bureau Veritas