Overwhelming Support for Offshore Wind, Chinese Production Facilities Ramp Back Up

In the midst of a global pandemic, while millions of Americans are sheltering in place, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) conducted a national public opinion survey of 800 likely voters. They discovered that more than 80 percent of the Americans surveyed – across both major political parties and an array of demographic groups – favor offshore wind development.

“Republicans and Democrats alike see offshore wind as playing a key role in the nation’s future energy portfolio, providing tremendous economic and environmental benefits and helping stabilize the cost of electricity,” said AWEA CEO Tom Kiernan.

According to the poll:

“Voters across the board appreciate the benefits wind energy delivers, according to the survey, with Republicans overwhelmingly viewing wind as a clean, renewable, affordable power source that also reduces carbon emissions (88%) and keeps utility costs stable, while providing critical power to America’s densely populated areas (80%).”

Chinese Manufacturers Fire Up Again

On April 8, GWEC held a webcast with key stakeholders from China’s wind industry to discuss the impact of the coronavirus crisis, and how it would impact the supply chain. A majority of manufacturers had shut down their facilities in January and February of 2020, and traffic bans impacted the supply chain. Production capacity took a dive, and Chinese wind leaders revealed that “shipments of wind turbines will decline by roughly 30 percent throughout the year.” Therefore, nations like the U.S. that depend on China for its turbine components could experience a delay of up to six months for onshore wind and even longer for offshore wind components.

Aside from China, many other countries that experienced lockdowns – Germany, Italy and Ecuador – leading to a lag in imported raw materials including main bearings, IGBT chips and gearbox bearings.

According to the GWEC news shared in mid-April, all Chinese onshore wind suppliers have “resumed business-as-usual, with a utilization rate up to 98 percent in their manufacturing facilities.” As far as offshore wind, thanks to masks the company made themselves, Envision, China’s largest maker of offshore wind turbines, is back to “normal” with a utilization rate of up to 99 percent.

Wind Energy Forecast Slowed, but Not Stopped

It’s no surprise that the global wind market will take a hit from the coronavirus crisis, but experts predict it will be a temporary setback at best. Market researcher Wood Mackenzie has trimmed its forecast for global wind installations in 2020 by 6.5 percent (4.9 GW), but still expects that world to add 73 GW of new capacity this year. That’s a sizeable jump from the 62 GW constructed in 2019.

Still, the full effects of COVID-19 remain unknown. Dan Shreve, Wood Mackenzie’s head of global wind energy research and lead author of the forecast report, writes:

“The impact of the coronavirus is top of mind for the global wind industry and embodies a crisis unlike anything the market has ever seen.”

“The state of the pandemic is evolving on an hourly basis, resulting in a highly reactionary environment. Industry stakeholders are continually adapting business operations to balance worker safety with the needs of their clients, all while complying with dynamic government containment measures.”

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