Renewables

China accounts for 71% of world’s new offshore wind capacity in 2023

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Published

June 18, 2024

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Published:

June 18, 2024

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China is dominant in the expansion of all major energy transition technologies. According to Global Wind Energy Council’s data, it commissioned 6.3 GW in offshore wind power plants in 2023 or 71% of the world’s total. The sector is on track, if the right frameworks are in place, to surge from 75.2 GW to 487 GW within a decade, the annual report shows.

Offshore wind is poised for truly global growth after 2023 saw the second-highest installations so far, Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) said. In its annual report, the association pointed out that key policy developments have set the foundations for accelerated expansion of the industry over the next decade.

Total capacity jumped 10.9 GW to 75.2 GW. The increase was 24% higher than in 2022, while the absolute record was achieved in 2021, with a whopping 21.1 GW.

Europe had a record year, with 3.8 GW, of which half was commissioned off the Dutch coast

China was dominant last year, just like in all other major energy transition technologies. It added 6.3 GW in offshore wind, 71% of the global total, and reached 37.8 GW. It was its sixth year in a row in the top position in newly installed capacities.

Emerging markets are taking important steps toward maturing, the report reads. GWEC’s rolling ten-year outlook to 2033 shows that, with the right frameworks in place, overall offshore wind capacity could hit 487 GW.

Europe had a record year in 2023, with 3.8 GW of new offshore wind capacity. The Netherlands accounted for half of the total, surpassing the United Kingdom. More than 170 units of Siemens Gamesa’s SG-11 DD turbines were connected across wind farms Hollandse Kust Noord (760 MW) and Hollandse Kust Zuid 1-4 (1.5 GW).

At the end of 2023, 41 GW and 34 GW of offshore wind capacity were in operation in Asia and Europe, respectively.

Main headwinds are inflation, capital costs, supply chain constraints

Last year was turbulent for the offshore wind industry on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, GWEC’s Chief Intelligence Officer Feng Zhao asserted.

“Challenges such as inflation, increased capital costs and supply chain constraints created uncertainty in the sector… Despite the headwinds experienced in 2023, governments and developers remain committed to developing offshore wind and the global offshore wind market outlook in the medium term remains resolutely promising,” he stated. By 2033, annual additions are projected to reach 66 GW, bringing the offshore share of new wind power to at least 25%, compared to the current 9%.

Lag in floating offshore wind development

In Norway, the remaining 35 MW of floating wind capacity was commissioned at the 94.6 MW Hywind Tampen floating wind project, the largest in the world.

Planners and the industry have high hopes in the technology, but only three more turbines were installed last year. A 2 MW floating demonstration model DemoSATH was built in Spain, while in China, Mingyang connected a 7.25 MW anti-typhoon machine and Shanghai Electric constructed a 4 MW unit.

Floating wind is unlikely to achieved full commercialization before the end of the decade

At the end of 2023, a total of 236 MW in floating wind was in operation globally, of which 101 MW in Norway, 78 MW in the UK, 25 MW in Portugal, 23 MW in China, 5 MW in Japan, 2 MW in France, and 2 MW in Spain.

The commercialization of floating wind is unlikely to be achieved before 2029 or 2030, GWEC said, compared to 2026/2027 from its previous reports. Such projects are costlier than the ones with conventional, bottom-fixed turbines.

“Macroeconomic challenges such as inflation and increased capital costs have made floating wind even more expensive. Floating foundation technology is not mature and standardisation for existing floating foundation designs remains low, which makes it hard for developers to mitigate risk and cost. There is a lack of port infrastructure that can accommodate foundation manufacturing and assembly, as well as increased demand for mooring and anchoring vessels that can support the installation. Bottlenecks in the implementation of floating foundation projects is likely to occur if restrictive trade policies and local content requirements come to play,” the authors added.

GWEC downgraded its floating wind additions forecast by 22% to 8.5 GW by 2030.

Record year in capacity allocation

Last year also marked all-time high with 39.4 GW of offshore wind capacity awarded worldwide, China allocated 18.2 GW under the grid-parity mechanism and the rest was approved through auctioning, of which 15.5 GW in Europe, 4 GW in the United States and 1.4 GW in Japan.

Germany awarded 8.8 GW through a zero-subsidy tender while Ireland held its first offshore wind energy auction, for 3.1 GW.

As for the region that Balkan Green Energy News covers, GWEC highlighted the progress in zoning and the preparation of auctions in Romania, Greece and Turkey.

Of note, Bulgaria proposed its own first offshore wind law last year. However, it prompted opposition from locals and environmentalists, which contributed to the fall of the previous cabinet. Additionally, Greece, Romania and Bulgaria are cooperating in grid development to enable the integration of renewables including offshore wind power. There is a proposal for an important interconnection under the Black Sea between Romania and Georgia.

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