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Wind energy in Asia on the rise

Wind energy Asia - turbines in Huashan, Jiangxi
Turbines in Huashan, Jiangxi, China

By 2050, Asia will be a global leader in wind energy. This is the prediction of the “Future of Wind” report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). It suggests that Asia could grow its share of installed capacity for onshore wind from 230 Gigawatts (GW) in 2018 to over 2,600 GW by 2050.

Wind power is expected to cover one-third of global power needs by midcentury. When combined with electrification, it could deliver a quarter of energy-related carbon emission reductions that are needed to meet the Paris climate targets. To reach this objective, onshore and offshore wind capacity will need to increase four-fold and ten-fold, respectively, every year until 2050.

On- and Offshore Turbines set to increase across Asia

In Asia, the spread of wind power has lagged behind Europe so far. But according to IRENA, Asia would account for more than 50% of global onshore wind power installations by 2050, followed by North America (23%) and Europe (10%). For offshore wind generation, Asia would cover more than 60% of global installations, followed by Europe (22%) and North America (16%).

There is China, which IRENA projects will have around 56 GW of offshore wind power by 2030 and 382 GW by 2050. The agency says China’s installations will outpace Europe’s in less than two decades.

IRENA predicts the wind power industry will make a “prominent shift” toward Asian waters, with the region coming to “dominate global offshore wind power installations.”

The turbine size for onshore applications will increase as well, from an average of 2.6 megawatts (MW) in 2018 to 4-5 MW for turbines commissioned by 2025. Offshore applications will likely increase to 15-20 MW in a decade or two. Floating wind farms could cover around 5-15% of the global offshore wind installed capacity (almost 1,000 GW) by 2050.

Japan – suspected biggest market for wind energy in Asia

Some global wind power companies see Japan as the next profit center. Multinational energy companies are quickly developing operations around Japan. The country is considered one of the final frontiers for wind power in Asia.

The Japan Wind Power Association or JWPA expects 46 to 55 billion US-Dollar worth of direct investment in 10 gigawatts of offshore wind infrastructure by 2030. German multinational RWE Renewables, the world’s second-largest offshore wind power company, is also looking into Japan now that the goverment has opened up their markets.

China’s onshore wind installed capacity is forecast to grow from 205 GW in 2018 to almost 2,150 GW in 2050. An expansion of this magnitude would represent nearly a quarter of China’s total land-based wind potential, which is estimated at around 8 800 GW. This estimate uses an average wind turbine height of 80 meters and does not include forested areas, areas occupied by permanent such snow, ice, water, and developed areas.

The technical feasibility of deploying more than 2,000 GW in China also would need to overcome current challenges such as integrating wind power with existing power infrastructure and supply-side expansion needs.

In Taiwan, Japanese energy giant JERA recently completed Taiwan’s first commercial offshore wind farm. Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen is pushing towards wind power to reduce the island’s dependence on nuclear energy.

Furthermore, construction of a 48 MW near-shore wind farm in Tra Vinh province, Vietnam, has begun this month.

Wind energy in Asia creating jobs

Employment opportunities will increase as the wind power industry is built-out. IRENA projected the industry to employ over 3.7 million people by 2030, and more than 6 million people by 2050.

IRENA’s figures for 2030 are nearly three times higher than the over one million jobs that existed in the global wind industry in 2018.

In 2018, Asia accounted for nearly half of global wind power employment with 620 000 jobs. China remains the global leader in wind installations, with 44% of the global wind power workforce, with 510 000 jobs in 2018.