China leads the world in new offshore wind capacity installation for the third year in a row with over 3 GW of new capacity in 2020, according to the latest data from Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC).
It was followed by the Netherlands with 1.5 GW of new capacity in 2020.
Despite the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the global offshore wind industry added 6 GW of new capacity in 2020.
European markets like Belgium, the UK, and Germany installed around 706 MW, 483 MW, and 237 MW of new offshore wind capacity, respectively. Unfavorable conditions and a weak short-term project pipeline led to the slowdown in Germany.
Outside of China and Europe, South Korea and the US installed 60 MW and 12 MW offshore wind capacity, respectively. In 2020, Portugal installed 17 MW of floating offshore wind capacity.
The global offshore wind capacity stood at 35.19 GW by the end of 2020, a 106% increase over the past five years. The UK accounted for 29% of overall global capacity, followed by China and Germany with 28.12% and 21.96% capacity, respectively.
Alastair Dutton, Chair of Global Offshore Wind Task Force at GWEC, said, “Current global offshore wind capacity has helped our society avoid 62.5 million tons of carbon emissions – equivalent to taking over 20 million cars off the road. Current offshore wind capacity already providing around 700,000 jobs globally.”
Feng Zhao, Head of Market Intelligence and Strategy at GWEC, said, “The continued growth of the offshore wind industry globally throughout the pandemic is a 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. 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.”
Zhao said that the Asia Pacific region would play a key role in driving the industry growth, with Japan and South Korea recently setting ambitious offshore wind targets. The United States would also become an important market as the Biden administration aims to accelerate the growth of the offshore wind industry.
In November 2020, the European Commission unveiled a strategy to help achieve the European Union’s climate neutrality target by 2050. The plan suggested increasing Europe’s offshore wind capacity up to 60 GW by 2030 and 300 GW by 2050, from its existing capacity of 12 GW.
According to Rystad Energy’s analysis, demand for offshore wind staff will triple by the end of the decade, surging to 868,000 full-time jobs from an estimated 297,000 in 2020. The hiring spree will be visible in the middle of the decade, as job demand could reach about 589,000 in 2025.
Harsh is a staff reporter at Mercom India. Previously with Indian Express, he has covered general interest stories. He holds a Masters Degree in Journalism from Symbiosis Institute of Media and Communication, Pune.