GWEC: Asia Pacific to lead offshore wind growth this decade

The global offshore wind industry is set for a rapid expansion in the next ten years, with the Asia-Pacific region leading the way, before Europe reclaims the lead after 2030, according to a new report by the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC). 

China is now the leading offshore wind market (pic credit: Photo by Lyu Ming/China News Service/VCG via Getty Images)

GWEC said 380GW of offshore wind capacity is expected to be added worldwide across 32 markets by the end of 2032. Almost half of this will be in Asia Pacific, according to the Global Offshore Wind Report 2023. 

Nevertheless, GWEC pointed to the likelihood of supply chain bottlenecks in every region apart from China, which threaten to hamper global efforts to install offshore wind as one means to transition away from fossil fuels. 

Immediate investment and global cooperation to secure supply chains are needed to stop that happening, GWEC said. 

China currently leads the world in global offshore wind capacity, with 31.6GW installed to date, and more than 5GW commissioned last year – which the report said demonstrates the resilience of the country's domestic offshore wind market. China is targeting 1,200GW of wind energy capacity by 2030. 

Asia Pacific as a whole meanwhile has offshore wind project pipelines totalling 250GW, GWEC said.  

While China continues to dominate, the expected rapid growth of offshore wind in the region is likely to include new markets. Several countries have ambitious 2030 targets for offshore wind, including Japan (10GW), South Korea (14.2GW) and Vietnam (6GW).

However, in some emerging APAC markets, the lack of an established route to market could impede installations, with clearer guidance needed from governments on relevant policy such as marine spatial planning, leasing and permitting. 

Impact of IRA

Elsewhere, North America is emerging as a leading market in offshore wind, rivalling Europe where the UK (13.6GW) and Germany (8GW) presently boast the largest offshore wind fleets outside of China. 

Boosted by the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), the US is currently targeting 30GW of offshore wind capacity by 2030 — a massive expansion of its existing 42MW offshore wind fleet. The report pointed out that the IRA specifically allocates $100 million in tax credits and other benefits for offshore wind manufacturing and infrastructure and installation.

Leases of large maritime territories for offshore wind development by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) occurred in 2021 and 2022 on both the east and west coasts, and the body will be further boosted by the IRA which provides funding for additional staffing. 

“By supporting domestic manufacturing, expanding development areas and streamlining project execution, this landmark legislation demonstrates the country’s commitment to clean energy and sets the stage for significant progress in the offshore wind sector,” the report read. 

Canada has zero offshore wind installed at present but boasts the world’s longest coastline and an offshore wind potential of around 9.3TW. The Atlantic province of Nova Scotia alone is targeting 5GW of offshore wind installations by the end of the decade. New investment tax credits designed to offset competition from the IRA in the US could further boost development in Newfoundland and Labrador, GWEC said. 

Latin America shows signs of emerging as a significant player in the Global South, with Brazil introducing a raft of new legsilation paving the way for future offshore wind leases, and Colombia boasting a 5GW pipeline already registered by developers with the state planning authority. 

Offshore pioneer Europe, meanwhile, lost its title as the world's largest offshore wind market to China in 2022. However, GWEC said the region will become the largest market for new installations after 2030 as it strives to move away from Russian fossil fuels and embrace renewables.