The global wind power industry expanded faster than ever in 2020. In total, an astonishing 93GW of new capacity was installed – a 53% year-on-year increase. Yet even this surge is not enough to put the world on track to achieve the Paris Climate Goals by 2050; that will require adding worldwide wind power at three times this pace over the next ten years.
While most of last year’s new capacity was accounted for by China and the US (see chart), the plans for wind power in Europe over the coming years are among the most ambitious in the world. In particular, the countries situated around the North Sea are in a unique position to help expand capacity through offshore wind power – in 2020, the region accounted for most of Europe’s 2.9GW of new offshore generation, taking Europe’s total to 25GW.
Such development is set to accelerate dramatically. Last year, a record €26.3bn was earmarked for investment in the delivery of 7.1GW of offshore wind farms in Europe. More broadly, the European Union has plans to expand its offshore capacity to at least 60GW by 2030, and 300GW by 2050.
However, despite numerous exciting ideas, the delivery of these projects needs to become smarter and more effective. This is an energy transition on an unprecedented scale – involving no fewer than ten countries – and will require similarly unprecedented cross-border cooperation. And for that to work, we urgently need to reduce complexity and embrace standardization.