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Offshore wind capacity soars as production goes global

Updated: Sep 10, 2020

A report on offshore wind capacity published by the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) paints an optimistic picture on recent and future developments. 2019 was the best year on record with 6.1 gigawatts (GW) of new capacity added globally and a further 6.6GW capacity increase is expected before the end of this year.

The 6.1GW added during 2019 is almost 20% of total global capacity (29.1GW) and the GWEC report sees this amount increasing rapidly with another 205GW capacity added before 2030. Such is the burgeoning development of offshore wind farms that this figure represents an increase of 15GW on the GWEC’s pre-Covid forecast.

Offshore wind farm production has managed to avoid the worst ravages of the economic slowdown caused by the pandemic for a number of reasons. Clean energy is finding favour throughout the world and the offshore wind sector is benefitting from huge investments in recent years, falling costs of production, economies of scale and the new advanced technologies it employs.

The Asia-Pacific region is at the forefront of the increased capacity with China leading the way for new installations for the second year running. Europe remains the largest market for offshore wind with 75% of total global installations but China is catching up quickly.

UK is the current market leader with 9.7GW, one-third of total global cumulative capacity. By 2030, although the UK is expected to quadruple that amount to 40.3GW, China’s capacity is forecast to be almost half as much again at 58.8GW.

Offshore wind farms are still a new concept in the US but by the end of the decade, they are predicted to be the third biggest producer in the world. Ben Blackwell, the CEO of GWEC, commented on these developments: “Offshore wind is truly going global”.

Floating wind turbines can now utilise to the full the expanse of oceans around the world and are one of the factors contributing to the exciting projections. They are anticipated to contribute 6.2GW capacity by 2030.

The report also highlighted the potential for the creation of 900,000 new jobs in the sector before 2030 while drawing attention to the equation whereby 1GW of offshore wind power avoids the emission of 3.5 megatonnes of carbon dioxide.


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