China responsible for half of the world's new offshore wind capacity in 2020

Out-Law News | 08 Mar 2021 | 2:47 am | 1 min. read

Over six gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind generation was installed around the world in 2020, with China responsible for over half of the installation, according to the Global Wind Energy Council.

China installed 3.06GW in 2020, making it the leading country in new offshore wind capacity for the third year in a row.

China now has 9.89GW of offshore wind capacity, bringing it close to the UK, the biggest offshore wind market with its 10.2GW of capacity.

The amount of new capacity added worldwide is about equal to 2019 levels. Total global offshore wind capacity is over 35GW, an increase of 106% in the past five years.

John Yeap of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law, said: “China embarked on its offshore wind program over a decade ago, and over that period has developed a significant offshore wind industry, adapted for the country’s water and weather conditions. Policy support together with an internalised supply chain has propelled China to be a global leader in the sector.” 

“Beyond the waters off the mainland of China, offshore wind has had a more challenged start, but this coming decade should see meaningful development of offshore wind across northern Asian waters. Amongst these, Taiwan’s offshore wind program is generally recognized as being one of the most advanced,” Yeap said. “However, policy advancements in Japan, Korea and Vietnam mean we are likely to see offshore wind contributing meaningfully to their generation profile as well. Korea is already planning to add, at 8.2GW, what would be the largest offshore wind array globally, dwarfing the current largest array which is the 1.12GW Hornsea 1."

“As we have seen by the way China has managed to adapt and evolve an offshore wind industry to meet its own water and weather conditions, we are likely to see the same development elsewhere in Asia. Japan’s deep waters may see floating wind turbines deployed. Vietnam’s shallow near shore potentially presents the opposite challenge in limiting the ability to use conventional cable laying vessels. Common across all these new entrants will be the internalising of the required supply chain, and Japan and Korea, both advanced manufacturing nations, will naturally be much better placed to do so. “

“Nevertheless, the drive for decarbonisation and meeting net zero targets, together with the policy reluctance to look again at nuclear power generation, means offshore wind is one of a limited number of options available to commercially add meaningful renewable energy to the generation mix. The sector therefore has a bright future in Asia, extending it beyond the waters off the mainland of China,” he said.

The Global Wind Energy Council is an international trade association for the wind power industry.

China launched its target in September to reach carbon neutrality by 2060.