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Europe's offshore wind industry expanding into Asia: event

London — Northern Europe remains a dominant force in global offshore wind with investment, skills and know-how now spreading to Asia, delegates heard at RenewableUK's Global Offshore Wind event in London Tuesday.

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While Europe had 70 GW of projects visible in pre-Final Investment Decision development, Asia had 60 GW and the US 22 GW, Green Investment Group's global head Mark Dooley said.

South Korea alone had a 16 GW pipeline of projects, Japan 10 GW and Taiwan 12 GW.

"However big these number seem, we will look back and see that this was just the beginning," Dooley said, noting his group's development activities in South Korea and Taiwan.

Andy Kinsella of Mainstream Renewable Power said the Irish developer was pushing ahead with geological surveys on its 800 MW Soc Trang project in Vietnam (the project has a US$98/MWh power purchase agreement).

"Vietnam has a population of 98 million, a booming economy and a huge coastline, 50% bigger than the UK's at 331,000 sq km," he said.

Electricity demand is set to grow from 739 TWh in 2018 to 1,070 TWh in 2028.

Its creaking generation mix of coal (it imports $2 billion/year of coal), gas/oil turbines and large hydro stations needed to grow at 5 GW a year to keep pace with demand growth, but it was failing to do so, Kinsella said.

"The only way it can keep up economically while reducing import dependency is via renewables," he said.

ASIAN MOMENTUM

The Global Wind Energy Council's Karin Ohlenforst said offshore wind accounted for 8% of global renewable capacity additions last year "and is heading for 20% with Asia the driver."

Compound annual capacity growth rates of 8.2% to 2025 were forecast to accelerate to 12% from 2025 to 2030 as China, then the rest of Asia, started to match Europe's offshore wind additions, she said.

By 2028 global additions of 20 GW-plus would be boosted by 2 GW/year additions in the US, she said.

Eiji Nishizaki of the Ports and Harbours Association of Japan said a new offshore energy act passed in April opened the way for feed-in tariff support allocated via tenders, under 30-year sea use concessions.

While Japan is seen as a major floating wind market of the future, Nishizaki said the country had potential for 91 GW of sea bed-fixed offshore wind capacity.

Some 4.5 GW were proceeding ahead of new zone selection by government for the next wave of development, he said.

These plans were put in the shade, however, by China's 133 GW pipeline of planned offshore wind capacity, Zhang Yi of China's State Power Investment Corporation noting half of this was in Guangdong province waters alone.

The market was beginning to flex its muscles, adding 1.6 GW last year with 6.6 GW now in construction, Yi said. A further 41.4 GW are approved, on top of an existing base of 3.63 GW.

"Projects approved before the end of 2018 have until end-2021 to be completed in order to qualify for a 0.85 yuan per kWh ($120/MWh) subsidy," he said.

He thought around 12 GW would be added in that time. Failure to deliver on time would see the tariff cut to 0.80 yuan, he said.

OUT-OF-DATE TARGETS

For Europe, a panel of developers and vendors agreed the recent escalation in climate awareness had made targets look insufficient.

"What looked like an ambitious UK sector deal a few weeks ago to deliver 30 GW by 2030 and 50 GW by 2050 now looks out of date," said Iberdrola?s Jonathan Cole.

Net zero climate goals implied a UK target of 75 GW by 2050, while in Europe recent discussions for North Sea total offshore wind by 2050 ranged from 250 GW to 450 GW, panelists said.

"The urgency of the debate is forcing us all to confront how we invest in connection," said Cole. "To us it is obvious we must move away from point-to-point, landfall-to-landfall connection, and move to coordinated offshore networks that are more efficient and resilient."

Tony Quinn of ORE Catapult had the last word, underlining the opportunity for sector coupling with heat and transport.

"The connection issue needs central planning with a whole systems approach. Of 270 TWh/year of forecast hydrogen production by 2050 [in the UK's net zero report, legal commitments for which were passed by the UK Parliament Monday night], 20% could come from offshore wind," he said.

--Andreas Franke, andreas.franke@spglobal.com

--Edited by Jonathan Loades-Carter, jonathan.carter@spglobal.com