Investment in Offshore Wind Skyrockets Despite Coronavirus Economic Shock

The Egmond aan Zee wind farm built off the Dutch North Sea coast.

The Egmond aan Zee wind farm built off the Dutch North Sea coast. Nuon / Jorrit Lousberg

Global investment in offshore wind more than quadrupled in the first half of 2020, with financing approved for 28 new offshore wind projects totaling $35 billion, according to a new report by Bloomberg NEF. The investment — more than what was approved in all of last year — comes despite the economic shock caused by the coronavirus.

Among the projects given the greenlight were the 1.5-gigawatt (GW) Vattenfall Hollandse Zuid windfarm off the coast of the Netherlands, with a $3.9 billion price tag; the 1.1-GW SSE Seagreen project off the coast of Scotland, valued at $3.8 billion, and 17 new offshore wind projects in China, including the $1.8-billion Yangjiang Yangxi Shapaat wind farm.

“We expected to see Covid-19 affecting renewable energy investment in the first half, via delays in the financing process and to some auction programs,” Albert Cheung, BNEF’s head of analysis, said in a statement. “There are signs of that in both solar and onshore wind, but the overall global figure has proved amazingly resilient – thanks to offshore wind.”

Cheung and his colleagues credit the “colossal” expansion of offshore wind investment to both the rapid fall in cost — two-thirds since 2012 — and a rush in China to finance and build projects before the country’s feed-in tariff expires next year.

In total, global investment in new renewable energy capacity (excluding large hydroelectric projects) reached $132 billion in the first half of 2020, a 5 percent increase over the same period last year. Onshore wind investment dropped 21 percent, and solar fell 12 percent, largely due to coronavirus-driven supply chain shutdowns and financial uncertainty.