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GWEC: Offshore Wind Must Pick Up Pace to Achieve Paris Targets

offshore wind farm
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Published Apr 10, 2022 11:53 PM by The Maritime Executive

Governments across the globe must quadruple offshore and onshore wind power capacity over the next decade or the world will not attain its climate targets, according to a new report from the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC).

The Global Wind Report 2022 suggests that despite significant growth in wind power, at the current rates of installation the world will have less than two-thirds of the wind energy capacity required to limit warming to 1.5°C and achieve a net zero pathway by 2030.

The report shows that although wind is on a positive growth trajectory, it is not growing nearly fast enough or widely enough. Globally, GWEC expects 557 GW of new capacity to be added in the next five years under current policies and installation rates, averaging 110 GW annually. This falls behind the pace required to meet Paris Agreement targets.

According to GWEC, the extreme fossil fuel pricing volatility seen over the last year is a symptom of a "hesitant and disorderly" energy transition. More critically, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has exposed the security issues arising from overdependence on imported fossil fuels.

“The wind industry continues to step up and deliver, but scaling up growth to the level required to reach net zero and achieve energy security will require a new, more proactive approach to policy making around the world,” said Ben Backwell, GWEC CEO.

For the world to transition to clean energy, annual transition-related investments will need to increase to an average of $4 trillion from $2.1 trillion in 2019, according to GWEC.

He suggests that streamlining permitting and planning would unlock economic growth and create millions of jobs by letting investment flow.

In 2021, the wind industry enjoyed its second-best year ever, with almost 94 GW of capacity added globally despite a second year of the COVID-19 pandemic. This was 1.8 percent less than the year-over-year wind energy growth rate in 2020 and was a clear sign of the incredible resilience and upward trajectory of the global wind industry.

The report shows that China continues to be the world’s largest wind market by installed capacity since 2010. In 2020, the country added more than 54 GW of wind capacity primarily driven by the expiration of the onshore wind feed-in-tariff. Although onshore wind growth slowed down last year, China retained strong momentum in 2021, adding 47.5 GW wind capacity.

According to the report, new offshore installations this year are likely to return to the 2019/2020 level, primarily due to the reduction of installations in China. However, market growth is expected to regain momentum from 2023, eventually passing the 30 GW mark in 2026. In total, more than 90 GW of offshore is expected to be added worldwide over the next five years.

Last year, the offshore wind market enjoyed its best-ever year with 21.1 GW commissioned, representing three times more than the previous year. China’s mammoth year of offshore installations accounted for 80 percent of the growth and saw it surpass the United Kingdom as the world’s largest offshore wind market in cumulative installations.