China adds record 16GW of offshore wind capacity

China's recent clean energy drive has seen the nation leapfrog the UK as the world leader in offshore wind capacity, with research revealing that the nation added more capacity in 2021 than what the world had produced over a five-year period.

China adds record 16GW of offshore wind capacity

Wind turbines at sunset at a beach in Changhua

China installed 26GW of new offshore wind capacity in 2021, the nation’s Energy Administration revealed. This massive increase means that China now accounts for more than half of the world’s total offshore wind capacity and Carbon Brief has since confirmed that the 26GW added in 2021 is more than what the entire world has produced over a five-year period.

The boom in capacity is partly down to the nation relaxing intensity caps, with renewable energy projects and raw material producers now exempt from volume caps, as confirmed by China’s cabinet State Council. Additionally, the China Three Gorges project saw more than 3GW of offshore wind capacity come online in late December.

Offshore capacity is not the only thing on the rise in China, however. The nation’s Energy Administration released a statement this month, revealing that China’s electricity consumption had increased by 10.3% in 2021 compared to the previous year. Additionally, the nation’s coal mining sector continues to boom. Coal mining in December reached almost 400m tonnes, according to Reuters, which is a 7.2% year-on-year increase. Coal production for the entirety of 2021 surpassed 4bn tonnes, which is a near 5% increase compared to 2020.

UK events

China has overtaken the UK as the world leader in offshore wind capacity. The UK has around 10GW of offshore wind capacity, but has now been dwarfed by developments in China.

Earlier this week, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy announced the 11 projects it has selected to receive grant funding through its Floating Offshore Wind Demonstration Programme, funded through the Treasury’s £1bn Net-Zero Innovation Portfolio.

Each selected project will also receive funding from the private sector. In total, the 11 projects are receiving £61.4m of new investment.

The news from BEIS comes a week after Crown Estate Scotland announced the successful bidders under its 2022 ScotWind Auction, which marked the first time in a decade that plots of Scottish seabed were auctioned to renewables developers. That Auction round selected projects with a total proposed capacity of 24.8GW, of which 16GW is floating wind.

Separately, the UK Government opened the fourth round of its Contracts for Difference (CfD) auction scheme in December 2021, with the aim of supporting 12GW of new generation capacity. Offshore wind will be supported, as it always has been – but for the first time in several years, there are also allocations for onshore wind, solar and tidal.

All of these announcements follow on from a commitment for the UK to deliver an entirely “clean” electricity system by 2035. This will mean ending generation from unabated gas and scaling generation from renewables and nuclear.

Matt Mace

Comments (1)

  1. Lawrence Rose says:

    China can do this as it has few qualms about using and developing coal power. This means that it can counteract the intermittency of those wind farms.
    15GW of new coal power capacity started construction in China in the first half of 2021.
    In order to eliminate coal (and gas) in GB we need an effective way of dealing with wind intermittency. At present we’re using more of both coal and gas than we should be.

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