Global offshore wind farm commissioning slows in H1

Installations down by a third due to Covid-19 as China closes in on UK for global offshore wind top spot, according to a new report

China has the most offshore wind capacity under construction (5.3GW), according to the WFO (pic credit: MingYang)
China has the most offshore wind capacity under construction (5.3GW), according to the WFO (pic credit: MingYang)

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Offshore wind commissioning slowed in the first half of the year due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to analysis by the World Forum Offshore Wind (WFO).

The industry body recorded 1,627MW of offshore wind capacity coming into operation in the first six months of 2021, down 35% on the same period last year.

Six new offshore wind farms went into operation during the first half of the year in 2021 in China, Denmark, the Netherlands and Taiwan. This was down from ten new offshore wind farms entering operations in the same period last year.

In its Global Offshore Wind Report, the industry body defines "added capacity" when all turbines at a wind farm are installed and first power is generated. It counts a project's entire capacity when this milestone is reached, rather than in stages.

The UK remains the world’s biggest offshore wind market with 10.4GW of total installed capacity, according to the WFO.

Meanwhile, China has overtaken Germany as the second largest offshore wind market with 7.9GW of operational capacity, compared with Germany’s 7.7GW. Unlike fast-growing China, Germany is not due to add any offshore wind capacity in the second half of the year – the first time in more than a decade it will have gone a full calendar year without adding to its offshore wind fleet, following a lack of tenders in recent years. 

Industry groups including Germany's wind energy association BWE and offshore wind farm operators group BWO have warned that this stagnation is driving companies to leave the market altogether, resulting in job losses.

Project construction is due to resume in 2022 with projects awarded in tenders in 2017 and 2018 coming online. Germany is also due to begin tendering new capacity this year, with successful projects due to be commissioned from 2026 onwards.

Closing in on UK

Meanwhile, China has the most offshore wind capacity under construction (5.3GW), ahead of the UK (3.7GW), Taiwan (640MW) and the Netherlands (383MW), according to the WFO. The industry group regards projects as being under construction if the first foundation has been installed, and then counts the project’s entire capacity.

Europe accounts for the largest portion of currently operational offshore wind capacity (75.2%), according to WFO figures, ahead of Asia Pacific (24.6%), and the US (0.1%)

Gunnar Herzig, WFO managing director, said: “[The] report underlines the truly international dimension of today’s offshore wind industry with more than 50% of offshore wind construction taking place outside Europe.”

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