In 2020, the global offshore wind industry had its second-best year ever, installing over 6 GW of new capacity – keeping growth on track despite the impacts of COVID-19 felt in other energy sectors, according to the latest data released by the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC).
The growth was driven by a record year in China, which led the world in new offshore wind capacity for the third year in a row, installing over half of the new offshore wind capacity globally. Steady growth in Europe accounted for the majority of the 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 after China.
“The continued growth of the offshore wind industry globally throughout the pandemic is a testament to the resilience of the industry,” says Feng Zhao, head of market intelligence and strategy at GWEC. “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 this year, driven by an offshore wind installation rush to meet China’s feed-in-tariff deadline.”
Other European offshore wind markets also experienced stable growth last year, with Belgium (706 MW), the U.K. (483 MW) and Germany (237 MW) all installing new capacity in 2020. The slowdown of growth in the U.K. was due to the gap between the contracts for difference (CfD) 1 and CfD 2. In Germany, the slowdown was primarily caused by unfavorable conditions and a weak short-term offshore wind project pipeline.
Outside of China and Europe, two other countries recorded new offshore wind capacity in 2020: South Korea (60 MW) and the U.S. (12 MW). The only new floating offshore wind capacity recorded was in Europe, with 17 MW installed in Portugal.
Overall, global offshore wind capacity now exceeds 35 GW – a 106% increase over the past 5 years alone. China has now surpassed Germany in terms of cumulative installations, becoming the second-largest offshore wind globally with the U.K. remaining in the top spot.