The epicentre of the offshore wind power sector has shifted from Europe to Asia, according to figures revealed by Wood Mackenzie, with the analyst's latest report shows that 17GW of offshore turbines were ordered around the world last year, with an astonishing 76% coming from China.

Yet even without the Chinese figures, Asia still beat Europe on offshore sales — with 2,098MW of non-Chinese Asian orders last year, compared to just 1,939MW in Europe. In total, more than 88% of offshore turbines ordered last year came from Asian countries.

“A nearly 2GW surge in offshore orders in Taiwan last year — and to a lesser extent in Vietnam — resulted in firm offshore wind turbine order intake in Asia, excluding China, exceeding offshore order intake in Europe for the first time within the annual period,” said WoodMac research director Luke Lewandowski.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, six Chinese turbine makers were among the top ten offshore OEMs in 2019, led by Shanghai Electric (also known as Sewind), with 4.9GW. It is the first time that a non-Western turbine maker has won the top spot in the global offshore wind market, said Lewandowski.

“A lower share of orders for offshore projects in Europe lowered the global average turbine rating for offshore orders to 5.8GW. However, increasing demand in China for turbines in the 6-8MW class and accelerated commercialisation of offshore models rated more than 10MW have increased the market’s average rating year-over-year.”

The International Renewable Energy Agency has predicted the global offshore wind build-out could reach 1TW of plant by 2050. And the World Bank produced a study late last year that suggested “emerging” plays alone could ultimately add as much 3TW to the worldwide fleet.

The WoodMac report, Global Wind Turbine Order Analysis: Q1 2020, also shows that 2019 was a record year for global turbine orders (both onshore and offshore) with a new high of 98.85GW — more than half of which came from China. This global total was 39GW higher than the previous record set in 2018.

The 50GW of Chinese orders were "primarily driven by the expiration of the feed-in-tariff but was also enabled by new transmission capacity and the easing of 'red warnings' [issued by Beijing when curtailment of wind output is deemed to be so high, due to grid constraints, that no further wind projects can be approved by local authorities] in northern provinces”, explained Lewandowski.

Vestas dominated global onshore sales with a total of almost 18GW of orders in 2019.

The WoodMac report also showed a huge increase in demand for 4MW-plus onshore turbines, with global orders exceeding 1GW — a 202% year-on-year increase.