EGEB: China led as the world installed 6.1 GW of offshore wind in 2020

In today’s Electrek Green Energy Brief (EGEB):

  • 6.1 GW of global offshore wind was installed in 2020, down slightly from a record 6.24 GW in 2019.
  • More than half of the world’s fossil fuels have to stay buried to slow global warming.
  • UnderstandSolar is a free service that links you to top-rated solar installers in your region for personalized solar estimates. Tesla now offers price matching, so it’s important to shop for the best quotes. Click here to learn more and get your quotes. — *ad.

Offshore wind in 2020

The Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) released its flagship Global Offshore Wind Report 2021 today. The global offshore wind industry installed 6.1 GW of capacity in 2020, down slightly from a record 6.24 GW in 2019.

However, GWEC expects 2021 to set a new record as China’s offshore wind sector rushes to install 7.5 GW ahead of the expiry of current feed in tariffs (FITs).

The GWEC writes:

China led the world in new installations for the third year in a row with more than 3 GW of offshore wind grid connected in 2020. Steady growth in Europe accounted for the majority of remaining new capacity, led by the Netherlands, which installed nearly 1.5 GW of new offshore wind in 2020, followed by Belgium (706 MW).

The report forecasts 235 GW of new offshore wind capacity will be installed over the next decade under current policies. That capacity is seven times bigger than the current market size, and is a 15% increase on the previous year’s forecasts.

In order to achieve the Paris Agreement target of limiting global warming to 1.5C, the world needs 2,000 GW of offshore wind capacity by 2050, based on calculations by the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). But the new GWEC report finds current global wind targets account for only 560 GW.

The world – and especially North America – still has a long way to go when it comes to utilizing offshore wind as a clean energy source.

Read more: Siemens Gamesa claims world’s first recyclable offshore wind turbine blade

Keep fossil fuels in the ground

More than half of the world’s fossil fuels have to stay in the ground in order to slow global warming, according to a new study posted on Nature yesterday. The study, published by University College London researchers, is titled “Unextractable fossil fuels in a 1.5 °C world,” and specifically, it says that countries not only need to switch to clean energy, but also to set hard, strict limits on fossil fuel extraction.

In order for the world to have a 50% shot at achieving the Paris Agreement 1.5C global warming limit, 58% of oil, 59% of natural gas, and 89% of coal must stay in the ground.

Further, oil and gas production must decline globally by 3% annually until 2050. The study’s abstract states:

This implies that most regions must reach peak production now or during the next decade, rendering many operational and planned fossil fuel projects unviable. We probably present an underestimate of the production changes required, because a greater than 50% probability of limiting warming to 1.5 °C requires more carbon to stay in the ground and because of uncertainties around the timely deployment of negative emission technologies at scale.

The authors stressed in a call with press that theirs is likely an underestimate because there isn’t a universal carbon budget. And as Grist writes:

The paper uses a carbon budget of 580 billion metric tons, an amount that is estimated to give only a 50% chance of stabilizing the global climate at 1.5C above preindustrial temperatures. 

[T]he model that the authors used to arrive at their fossil fuel quota actually allows the world to emit more than 580 billion metric tons of carbon and for temperatures to temporarily rise to 1.8C before settling back down to 1.5C by the end of this century.

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