Offshore wind investment proves “resilient” despite Covid-19

Published by Kayle Crosson on

14 July 2020

Investment in offshore wind energy has shown “great resilience” in the face of ongoing economic and public health crises this year, according to new international analysis. 

Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) reported that offshore wind had “by far its busiest half year ever” in terms of investment, and the development offsets any declines in solar, onshore wind and biomass energy investment. 

Overall, global financing of renewable capacity rose by 5 per cent in the first half of 2020, which defied the Covid-19 recession, BNEF found. 

Offshore wind financing came out to $35 billion in this time period, up a staggering 319 per cent when compared to its investment status in July 2019. 

By these figures, 2020 has already surpassed last year’s offshore wind energy investment, as by year-end in 2019 the industry had seen $31.9 billion in financing. 

The report notes that this year also saw the “largest ever” investment for a sea-based wind farm off the coast of the Netherlands, which was worth an estimated $3.9 billion. 

Regional and worldwide investment in offshore wind 

Large-scale financing of the renewable energy source was not limited to just the Netherlands, as BNEF pointed to neighbouring France and Great Britain investing $5.4 billion and $3.8 billion respectively in offshore wind deals. 

There were “no fewer than 17 Chinese installations financed”, according to BNEF, and Taiwan also footed an investment bill of $3.6 billion into offshore wind. 

Head of analysis at BNEF anticipated the Covid-19 pandemic to affect renewable energy investment in the first half of the year, “via delays in the financing process and to some auction programs”.

While there are signs of such impacts in solar and onshore wind, “the overall global figure has proved amazingly resilient – thanks to offshore wind,” Mr. Cheung said. 

The sector has benefitted from the continuous reduction in levelized costs since 2012, according to BNEF head of wind analysis Tom Harries. 

“But the first half of this year also owed a lot to a rush in China to finance and build, in order to take advantage of a feed-in tariff before it expires at the end of 2021,” Mr. Harries said. 

“I expect a slowdown in offshore wind investment globally in the second half, with potentially a new spike early next year,” he added. 

Irish off-shore wind 

The news comes just a week after CorkBeo reported that Simply Blue Energy submitted an application to build an offshore wind farm off the coast of Kinsale. 

The company plans to develop the site in the Celtic Sea off the south coast and upon completion, anticipate that the farm will have a total capacity of up to 1GW. 

The project, according to Simply Blue Energy, “envisions the transformation of the maritime landscape in the vicinity of the Kinsale gas field into a zone for the production of clean, renewable offshore wind energy” in order to support a decarbonised Irish economy.

The site would be a crucial puzzle piece for the newly formed government, as the coalition of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party aim to achieve 5GW capacity in offshore wind by the end of the decade off the country’s Eastern and Southern coasts. 

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Kayle Crosson

Kayle is a multimedia journalist focused on climate and environmental issues and contributes to The Irish Times and The Green News.