The biggest contributor to growth was China, accounting for 14.7 GW of new capacity. The remaining 2.6 GW was nearly all provided by the Netherlands, Denmark and Vietnam.
The main driving force behind bringing on stream new capacity was the effect of “green” or feed-in tariffs, which guarantee suppliers of clean energy not only a connection to the grid but also the purchase of all the power they can produce at a fixed rate – allowing them to “claw back” capital expenditure.
Green tariffs were withdrawn in China only in January 2022 – the main reason why the country accounted for seven of 10 of the world’s largest offshore wind farms brought on stream in 2021. In Vietnam, green tariffs remained in place until November 2021, allowing the country’s share in world-wide growth in capacity to reach 4 % (compared to 85 % for China, 7 % for the Netherlands, 3 % for Denmark and 1 % for various other producers).
The record bringing on stream of new capacity propelled China to first place world-wide for installed capacity of offshore wind farms (22.7 GW), overtaking Britain (10.5 GW). Britain boosted its capacity of wind power by 48 MW following the launch of the second phase of the Kincardine wind farm 15 km off the east coast of Scotland. The Netherlands increased its capacity following the launch of the third and fourth phases of the Borssele wind farm (732 MW), Denmark owing to its Kriegers Flak wind farm (605 MW) and Vietnam thanks to a series of smaller projects with a total capacity of 750 MW.
China’s share of the world-wide structure of installed capacity of offshore wind farms at the end of 2021 rose to 45 %, while Great Britain’s share declined to 21 %. Germany and the Netherlands accounted for 15 % and 6 % respectively, with Denmark and Belgium accounting for 5 % each and various other countries 3 %.
Total world-wide capacity of offshore wind power at the end of 2021 stood at 50.1 GW. By way of comparison: the figure for land-based wind power capacity for 2020 stood at 698.9 GW, according to the International Renewal Energy Agency (IRENA).
This difference many times over is linked to the high costs of sea-based wind power: unit costs for construction of offshore wind power stations in the European Union in 2020 were 2 ½ times higher than land-based facilities ($3,480 per MW of capacity against $1,500 for MW as per the calculations of the International Energy Agency).
Russian companies, however, are beginning to show an interest in the sector. Zarubezhneft announced in 2021 its intention, together with Belgian company DEME, to bring on stream by 2030 a 1,000 MW offshore wind farm in Vietnam.