Written by Martin Lynch, European News Editor for Industrial Info (Galway, Ireland)--China cemented its position as the world's leading market for wind energy by installing half of new global offshore wind capacity during 2020.

In what was to be a record year for the wind sector as a whole, China installed 3 gigawatts (GW) of new offshore wind capacity, overtaking Germany to become the world's second largest offshore wind market behind the U.K. Industrial Info is tracking almost 2,800 new and updated wind projects in China worth $516 billion.

Just over 6 GW of new wind capacity was installed globally in 2020, the second best year to date, despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. In Europe, almost half of its new offshore wind capacity was installed by the Netherlands, with nearly 1.5 GW installed last year, followed by Belgium (706 MW), the U.K. (483 MW) and Germany (237 MW). 2020 was a disappointing year for both the U.K. and Germany thanks to the difference in the U.K.'s old and new funding schemes, known as Contracts for Difference (CfD) 1 and CfD 2. Germany's slowdown was attributed mostly to unfavourable conditions and a weak short-term offshore wind project pipeline. According to the latest figures in the Global Wind Report 2021 by the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC), total global offshore wind capacity now stands at more than 35 GW.

"The continued growth of the offshore wind industry globally throughout the pandemic is a testament to the resilience of this booming industry," commented Feng Zhao, head of Market Intelligence and Strategy at GWEC. "Although China was hit first by the COVID-19 crisis, the impacts on the offshore wind sector were minimal, resuming 'business-as-usual' as early as March 2020. China's record-breaking growth is expected to continue in 2021, driven by an offshore wind installation rush to meet China's Feed-in-Tariff deadline by the end of this year".

He added: "While Europe remains the largest offshore wind market globally, Asia Pacific will play an increasingly important role driving industry growth as major economies such as Japan and South Korea have recently established ambitious offshore wind targets. The U.S. will also become an increasingly important market for offshore wind, as the new administration has made it clear they are working to accelerate growth of this crucial industry."

Outside of China and Europe, only two other countries recorded new offshore wind capacity in 2020: South Korea (60 MW) and the U.S. (12 MW). The only new floating offshore wind capacity recorded last year was in Portugal (17 MW).

2020 was the best year in history for the global wind industry showing year-over-year growth of 53% with new installations topping more than 93 GW and bringing the global total capacity to 743 GW. Onshore wind accounted for almost 87 GW of 2020's installations, up 59% on 2019. China and the U.S. remained the world's largest markets for new onshore additions, boosting their combined share of the global market to 76%. This was driven largely by the Feed-in Tariff (FiT) cut-off in China and the scheduled phase-out of the full-rate Production Tax Credit (PTC) in the U.S.

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