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UK maintains lead in offshore wind, although China is catching up

Offshore Wind

The UK is continuing to lead the way globally when it comes to offshore wind, with research from RenewableUK showing that the UK will soon receive 38.9GW of power from offshore wind projects. 

RenewableUK’s research looked at the global pipeline of offshore wind energy projects which are operational, under construction, consented or being planned. The organisation found that the number of projects have soared by 30% in the last 12 months from 122GW to 159GW, despite the Covid-19 lockdown. 

The research found that the UK was still the number one country in the world for offshore wind projects, although China is quickly catching up. RenewableUK previously found China in fourth place, although it has since increased its position by 7.3GW, or 60%, to 19.3GW. That still lags far behind the UK’s 38.9GW, however, which represents a quarter of the global total.

Where do other countries stand? 

The UK and China have seen massive leaps in the number of offshore wind projects either already operational or set to be operational some point in the next few years, and it seems other countries have also been adopting the technology. The USA has seen a 13% increase in projects, maintaining third place globally, with 17.8GW of projects, while Taiwan is in fifth with a 28% increase in projects to 11.4GW. 

Likewise, the Netherlands and Ireland have seen a substantial increase in the number of projects, up 74% and 156% to 11.3GW and 8.2GW, respectively. However, not all countries have enjoyed double digit increases. IN fact, Germany, which has dropped from second to fourth, has seen the number of projects remain the same over the last 12 months at 16.5GW. 

Rounding out the top 10 is Poland with 6.2GW, Denmark at 4.7GW and Vietnam with 3.6GW.

Why does China lag behind the UK? 

Despite China continuing to lag behind the UK in terms of offshore wind projects, the country is fast becoming the world leader when it comes to renewable energy. The country has been investing in multiple sources, with the country being particularly keen on solar. In fact, the IEA estimated that China has the capacity to produce 204GW of electricity from solar 

The country has also massively developed a network of onshore wind farms, with the country targeting 250GW of installed wind capacity by 2020. While most of that will come from onshore wind farms, the country has been more bullish towards offshore projects in recent years. That’s why you’re seeing China catching up to the UK. 

How many offshore wind power projects are actually operational? 

While some of the figures banded about are massive, the majority of the numbers represent offshore wind farms that are set to come online in the future. These are ones that are under construction, consented or being planned. 

As for operational offshore wind farms, the UK is still number one. It has an operational capacity of 9.7GW, which is above Germany, which has 7.5GW, China, with its 3.3GW, Belgium, and its 1.8GW, and Denmark, which has just 1.7GW.

RenewableUK’s Deputy Chief Executive Melanie Onn, noted, “In the current economic crisis, these new figures show that offshore wind is one of the major growth opportunities worldwide. In the UK alone, we estimate that next year’s auction for renewable power could secure over £20bn of new investment. Our latest Offshore Wind Project Intelligence report highlights the global potential for offshore wind to drive a green economic recovery.

“It’s great to see the UK’s world-leading offshore wind industry remains in pole position – other countries are following our lead and catching up fast, but we remain by far the biggest market for offshore wind in the world.

“This is a global industry and the UK’s offshore wind supply chain has increasing opportunities to sell our goods and expertise overseas, as we take on a new role on the global stage after Brexit. We’re already exporting to Europe, Asia, North America and Australia, and the value of our offshore wind exports is set to increase fivefold to £2.6bn by 2030 for UK companies.”

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