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Record Offshore Wind Spending Keeps Renewables Investment ‘Resilient’ through Pandemic

Global investment in offshore wind development quadrupled over the first half of this year, with US$35 billion pouring into 28 new projects, despite the deep economic shock triggered by the pandemic, Bloomberg NEF reported this week.

“We expected to see COVID-19 affecting renewable energy investment in the first half, via delays in the financing process and to some auction programs,” said BNEF Head of Analysis Albert Cheung. “There are signs of that in both solar and onshore wind, but the overall global figure has proved amazingly resilient—thanks to offshore wind.”

Citing the report, The Guardian points to the $3.9-billion Hollandse Kust Zuid wind farm off the Netherlands coast announced by Swedish developer Vattenfall, the $3.8-billion Seagreen project in Scotland’s Firth of Forth, and a collection of 17 new developments in China, led by Guangdong Yudean Group’s $1.8-billion Yangjiang Yangxi Shapaat wind farm.

The activity drove a 5% increase in global renewable energy investment, to $132.4 billion, even though onshore wind and solar spending fell by 20% and 12% respectively, The Guardian says.

“BNEF believes offshore wind projects are taking off despite the global economic gloom in part due to a two-thirds fall in cost since 2012 and a rush in China to finance and build offshore wind projects before the government’s subsidy regime expires at the end of 2021,” the paper writes. Renewables investment increased 50% in the European Union, to $36.5 billion, and 350% in the UK, to $5.7 billion, but fell 50% in India, 30% in the United States, and 25% in Brazil.

“Renewables have been helped by vastly improved competitiveness and by investor appetite for assets offering secure cash flows,” said BNEF Chief Editor Angus McCrone. “However, project developers face the challenge that key people, whether at the permitting, financing, or construction stages, can’t meet face-to-face. And buyers of small-scale solar systems are sensitive to changes in consumer confidence.”