China installed half of new global offshore wind capacity during 2020 in record year

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  • China leads the world in new annual offshore wind installations for the third year in a row with over 3 GW of new offshore wind capacity in 2020.
  • Steady growth in Europe, driven by the Netherlands and Belgium, accounts for majority of the remaining new offshore wind installations in 2020, along with the US and South Korea.
  • The offshore wind industry installed just over 6 GW of new capacity globally in 2020, nearly the same levels as the previous year despite the impacts of COVID-19 and the second-best year for the sector.
  • The UK remains in the top spot globally for total offshore wind capacity, while China has now overtaken Germany to become the world’s second largest offshore wind market.
  • Total global offshore wind capacity is now over 35 GW, helping the world avoid 62.5 million tonnes of CO2 emissions – equivalent to taking over 20 million cars off the road – and providing around 700,000 jobs globally over the projects’ lifetimes.

According to the latest data released by GWEC Market Intelligence, the global offshore wind industry had its second-best year ever in 2020 installing over 6 GW of new capacity, keeping growth on track despite the impacts of COVID-19 felt in other energy sectors. This growth was driven by a record year in China, which lead the world in new annual offshore wind capacity for the third year in a row, and installed over half of the new offshore wind capacity globally last year.

Steady growth in Europe accounted for the majority of 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 in 2020 after China.

Other European offshore wind markets also experienced stable growth last year, with Belgium (706 MW), the UK (483 MW), and Germany (237 MW), all installing new capacity in 2020. The slowdown of growth in the UK is due to the gap between the Contracts for Difference (CfD) 1 and CfD 2. In Germany, the slowdown is primarily caused by unfavourable  conditions  and a weak short-term offshore wind project pipeline.

The only new floating offshore wind capacity recorded in 2020 was also in Europe, with 17 MW installed in Portugal.

Outside of China and Europe, two other countries recorded new offshore wind capacity in 2020: South Korea (60 MW) and the US (12 MW).

Overall, global offshore wind capacity now exceeds 35 GW – a 106 per cent 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 UK remaining in the top spot.

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