China’s drive to conquer the global renewable energy market continues apace: it’s constructing more offshore wind capacity than the rest of the world combined.
An army of sea giants is emerging along China’s coastline. Mysterious and magnificent, they rise up from the waves, limbs outstretched, gently whirring in the breeze. From north of Shanghai down to Hong Kong, across a thousand-mile stretch of water, hundreds of these creations will one day provide enough energy to power millions of homes and businesses.
With the pandemic and the climate crisis still raging, China has been steadily building up its wind warms over land and sea. Despite Covid-19 grinding much of the world to a halt, China’s drive to conquer the global renewable energy market continues apace: it’s constructing more offshore wind capacity than the rest of the world combined.
Since reaching the one-gigawatt milestone in 2017 (enough energy to power 100 million LED home light bulbs), progress has been rampant. China is now the world’s leader in new offshore wind installations. By 2030, it’s expected to reach a 52-gigawatt capacity. “Amid climate change, the big drive was the government wanting to develop a new industry, create jobs and economic growth while reducing coal production,” says Feng Zhao, strategy director at the Global Wind Energy Council.
China now boasts more than 135,000 turbines, generating more than 235 gigawatts of electricity per year. It’s also the world’s biggest exporter of solar panels. But wasn’t China meant to be the scourge of the climate crisis? The biggest producer of carbon emissions on the planet? Although coal-fired power plants remain the backbone of the Chinese economy, there are signs that they're slowly making way for renewables.
China is targeting half of all its energy to come from renewable sources by 2050 - the same year the UK aims to be carbon neutral. Wind will be core to either happening.
But despite the huge drive into offshore wind farming, the largest market isn’t China – it’s the UK. The UK, with 10.4 gigawatts of installed capacity, three more than Germany and China, still leads the way. Dale Vince, owner of green electricity company Ecotricity, brands Britain the “Saudi Arabia of wind energy.”