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    China now has nearly half of the world’s offshore wind capacity

    January 27, 2022 - The Economist: Graphic detail

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      The wind is up in China. Last year the country connected 17 gigawatts (GW) of offshore-wind capacity to its electricity grid, according to its National Energy Agency, meaning it can now produce up to 26 GW of its power in this way. Such scale and speed is unprecedented: between 2015 and 2020 the rest of the world, collectively, added just over 14GW, according to data from the International Renewable Energy Agency. In 2019, with 8GW of capacity, Britain was the world’s largest offshore-wind producer. China’s global share is now almost half of the 54GW of offshore wind-power capacity globally. (Though the world needs lot more wind-powered energy yet.)

      China’s government sees wind power as a means of reducing air pollution and maintaining energy security. As well as being the world leader in wind power (both on- and offshore), it also leads on solar power. Other countries aren’t keeping up. The International Energy Agency, a global forecaster, estimates that the world—minus China—added only an extra 2.5GW of offshore wind power in 2021. The Biden administration has set a target of 30GW of offshore-wind capacity by 2030, but has only recently approved its first big project (which will provide just 800 megawatts). Britain and Germany have similar ambitions, though they are starting from a significantly higher base.

      China’s embrace of green power cannot disguise its continued reliance on the dirty sort, particularly coal, the biggest source of greenhouse gases globally. Coal use is declining in most of the world but in China it accounts for 60% of energy production—and will remain a big power source in years to come. In 2020 China commissioned 38.4GW of coal-power plants, the amount idled elsewhere. Without moving away from coal, China’s talk of net-zero—it says its emissions will peak before 2030 and reach net-zero by 2060—is so much hot air. ¦

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