World's wind power capacity up by fifth after record year thanks to boom in offshore projects

Increasing wind power is one of the ways the world is moving to cleaner engery

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There was also a boom in onshore projects in China and the US
There was also a boom in onshore projects in China and the US Credit: REUTERS/Phil Noble

The world's wind power grew by almost a fifth last year after a boom in offshore projects.

The global wind power industry had a record year in 2019 as The Global Wind Energy Council found that wind power capacity grew by 60.4 gigawatts, or 19 per cent, compared with 2018.

Offshore wind capabilities were a driving force behind this, as new projects were completed, and it now makes up a tenth of all projects.

The annual report found that some countries are still expanding their onshore wind at growing rates.

The US and China are the world's biggest markets for onshore wind, and together make up almost two-thirds of global growth in wind power.

Earlier this year, the UK government announced that it was ending what was an effective ban on onshore wind in order to enable the country's green energy sector to grow.

David Cameron’s government fulfilled an election promise to end subsidies for “unsightly” wind farms in 2016, after calls from more than 100 mostly Conservative MPs.

These subsidies have now been reinstated as the government is under pressure to deliver on its legally binding promise to reach net zero by 2050, particularly as it hosts the COP26 international climate summit in November this year.

The impact of the end to subsidies was revealed last year in figures that showed only 23 wind farms started generating electricity, compared with 405 in 2014.

Secretary of State for Business and Energy Alok Sharma said at the time: “Ending our contribution to climate change means making the UK a world leader in renewable energy.”

While many worry about the cosmetic impact of onshore wind, scientists have said the offshore alternative can be deadly for seabirds.

Wind farms built on their migration routes can harm birds including puffins because collision with the blades can cause death as they try to fly to their feeding spots. Even the birds which wisely dodge the structures are harmed; they are forced to take large detours, putting chicks at risk of starvation as they wait for their parents to return.