China building world’s biggest offshore wind farm as renewable energy growth gains momentum


China is building the world’s largest commercial floating offshore wind farm off the coast of Hainan, showing sign of growing momentum of renewable energy.

The wind farm, with a capacity of 1 GW, is being built by state-owned firm PowerChina, and will generate about 11 times more power than the current largest floating wind farm in Norway.

It will be constructed in two phases. The first 200-MW phase will be built by 2025, with the remaining 800 MW completed by 2027, according to the official China News Agency.

China’s offshore wind energy industry is expanding rapidly, and it will run out of space near shore at some point, said Mr Cosimo Ries, a renewable energy analyst at Beijing-based consultancy firm Trivium.

“So it is in a way inevitable that floating offshore wind takes off,” he said, adding that these projects promise great potential for the expansion of wind power.

But Mr Ries also pointed out that the technological and engineering challenges involved in building floating wind turbines could make the electricity produced cost up to four times more compared with traditional fixed-bottom wind projects.

This is where mega projects such as the one PowerChina is building come in, as they help develop the expertise and scale needed to drive costs down, he said.

China has set a goal to achieve 1,200 GW of total installed capacity of wind and solar power by 2030.

During an annual work conference held on Dec 30, 2022, the National Energy Administration has set a target to install around 65 GW of wind power and 98 GW of solar power in 2023, or a combined capacity of just over 160 GW.

If it hits this goal, it would amount to a 35% increase over 2022’s target of 120 GW wind and solar power.

Mr. Jin Boyang, a senior analyst at data provider Refinitiv, said 2023’s targets show that China is on track of its energy transition, noting that cumulative capacity for solar and wind power will reach 920 GW this year – only 280 GW short of the 2030 target.

Beijing’s exit from zero-Covid will also provide a boost, as many renewable projects had been deferred by outbreaks in 2022, he added.

While the energy administration has said it will continue to lean on coal for energy security, with new coal power units being put into operation, Mr Jin said the overall percentage of renewable energy will continue to grow.

“We need to see the bigger picture here: As long as the share of renewable installation in China’s power mix is consistently increasing, even if there is short-term disruption, the course towards a greener energy structure for China will not be changed,” he said.


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