The world's installed offshore wind capacity is expected to see a 37% growth rate this year with a China-led 11.8 gigawatt (GW) increase, according to Rystad Energy on Wednesday.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the global installed offshore wind capacity rose by 15% in 2020, reaching 31.9 GW at the year-end from its 27.7 GW level at the end of 2019.
Last year, China became the main contributor to the growth of offshore wind capacity by accounting for 39% of last year's total additions, followed by the Netherlands and the UK with 18% and 17% shares, respectively.
"As COVID-19 hit the Chinese market first, fears over supply chain disruptions emerged, with offshore wind developers worried about delays to projects down the line. And as the pandemic spread throughout the world, risks of a severe slump in construction activity grew. More countries closed their borders and went into lockdown and several manufacturing sites for turbines and other components temporarily shut down operations," Rystad Energy said in a statement.
However, with the first wave of the virus settling, the offshore wind market returned to a growth trajectory, supported by increased capacity targets from several nations.
Europe and the US also saw some delays due to the pandemic but offshore wind developers stayed committed to making final investment decisions for projects in 2020.
In the second half of last year, almost 25 GW of capacity was added to the global backlog. Currently, Brazil has no operational offshore wind capacity, but its backlog grew significantly during 2020 as the country added more than 15 GW to the drawing board, according to Rystad Energy.
"While staying resilient in an uncertain market was key in 2020, this year the industry finds itself positioned for record growth, especially as commissioning activities pick up pace in Asia and around the world," it said.
China will contribute 63% of the expected growth and lead the new capacity additions.
"After 2021, China will begin phasing out feed-in-tariffs and many developers are therefore pushing to complete projects during the coming period. As such, this year is expected to see high capacity additions in the country," Rystad Energy said.
Alexander Flotre, Rystad Energy’s product manager for offshore wind, said China had a construction backlog of more than 10 GW going into 2020 while Chinese developers are racing to reach maximum commissioning by the end of this year to claim full feed-in-tariffs.
"This means 2021 is going to see major capacity additions, particularly since some projects initially scheduled for commissioning in 2020 ended up slipping into 2021," Flotre said.
In addition, Rystad Energy forecasted that other regions in Asia outside China are preparing for a groundbreaking year. The research group said Taiwan and Vietnam have finally started to add significant volumes to their project pipelines making 2021 a year to look forward to in the offshore wind market.
By Nuran Erkul Kaya