New offshore wind development hits 200GW since start of 2020

Government and investor ambition could be thwarted by supply chain constraints and poor frameworks, consultancy RCG warns

Vietnam, which has 99MW of offshore wind capacity, has a 65GW development pipeline (pic credit: Tycho/Wikimedia Commons)
Vietnam, which has 99MW of offshore wind capacity, has a 65GW development pipeline (pic credit: Tycho/Wikimedia Commons)

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More than 200GW of new offshore wind projects have been announced since the beginning of 2020, accounting for 44% of all global capacity at the pre-construction or early development stage, according to a report from The Renewables Consulting Group (RCG). 

The 2020 Global Offshore Wind Annual Market Report outlines 15 months of roaring success for offshore wind in all geographies — the report covers all of 2020 and the first quarter of 2021. Floating offshore wind is emerging as a powerful utility-scale option for markets with deep-water seabed areas, the report also finds.

Several large (500MW-plus) project announcements were made in Europe, Asia and South America, and more than 8GW of offshore wind capacity was financed in 2020, eclipsing the previous record of 6.4GW in 2018. Global investment in offshore wind also set new highs last year, reaching $30 billion.

“The ongoing maturation of technology and declining costs for offtake have inspired governments and investors to embrace offshore wind, with many authorities touting offshore wind as a cornerstone to a green economic recovery in the wake of a global recession,” said Lee Clarke, RCG chief operating officer.

But the “transformative year” for offshore wind should not distract from the “significant challenges” the industry continues to face in meeting ambitious targets and enabling project delivery beyond 2030, RCG stated. 

“Supply chain constraints across all regions, as well as undefined development frameworks and route to market mechanisms, will limit deployment of capacity across the sector through to 2030,” RCG warned, adding that the ambition of government authorities and investors may exceed sector capability in some areas.

The Asia-Pacific market portfolio saw the greatest rate of growth and is expected to surpass the EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) region in project development capacity. Vietnam tops the list with an impressive 65GW cumulative development pipeline — although the report flags up potential overlapping boundaries and other constraints such as grid availability, making it unlikely that all projects will advance to operation.

China has the second largest development portfolio, with 63.6GW. Project commissioning took place at an unprecedented rate during 2020 in anticipation of the offshore wind feed-in tariff expiring in 2022. 

New project announcements stalled in the US in 2020, but 31GW of capacity was announced in Brazil, with prospects for offshore wind development being discussed elsewhere in South America.

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