With oil and gas industries contributing to the offshore wind boom, China has surpassed the United Kingdom as the world’s largest operator of installed offshore wind capacity.
According to data issued by China’s National Statistics Administration, China raised utility-scale offshore wind energy generating capacity to 11.13 gigatonnes at the end of June, rivalling the UK’s about 10.4 gigatonnes of installed capacity by the end of 2020. This is in addition to China’s current 280.8GW of onshore wind power producing capacity, which is also the world’s greatest.
3.63GW of total offshore wind capacity was built in the first six months of 2021, representing a considerable rise from the 7.5GW installed by the end of last year. According to the Global Wind Energy Council, China ranks third, after the United Kingdom and Germany.
According to a recent forecast by Norwegian energy consultancy Rystad Energy, another 11.8GW of offshore wind generating capacity will be constructed globally this year, with China accounting for 63% of the capacity growth. State-owned oil corporations, led by China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC), are also making progress in the development of offshore wind power.
CNOOC has begun preliminary construction on a 1GW wind project offshore Shantou in southern China’s Guangdong province, with official clearance. Xu Keqiang, the business’s chief executive, stated that the company will proceed with offshore wind projects “in a methodical and careful way,” adding that it will only boost investment in such schemes if they demonstrate the capacity to create meaningful returns.
The business began operations at its first offshore wind power facility in Jiangsu province in September. The entire power generating capacity of the H2 project is 300 megawatts, comprising 50 4MW units and 17 6MW units. 47 units are put in shallow water, with the remaining in deep water.
The corporation has set aside more than 5% of its annual budget for clean energy projects, which amounts to between 4.5 billion yuan ($700 million) and 5 billion yuan ($700 million) of this year’s capital expenditure budget of 90 billion to 100 billion yuan.
China’s frenetic pace of offshore wind turbine construction comes as the government prepares to phase out national subsidies for such projects at the end of this year. With subsidies poised to expire, regional governments along China’s coast are hurrying to develop offshore wind generators.
Offshore wind projects approved in 2019 and 2020 must be operational by the end of 2021, according to current policy. Otherwise, project developers will be denied a 0.85-yuan ($0.13) government subsidy for each kilowatt-hour of power generated. China’s rapid expansion of renewable energy capacity coincides with the country’s goal of reaching peak carbon dioxide emissions in 2030 and then carbon-neutrality in 2060.