China is three years behind schedule on a plan that would make it the world’s biggest market for offshore wind, a setback for the $15 billion industry that’s seeking to produce affordable electricity from the one of nature’s most reliable energy sources.
China set out an ambitious plan in 2011 to build 5,000 megawatts of offshore wind turbines in four years, enough to power 5.4 million homes. With less than 10 percent of that capacity in place, officials now say they won’t meet that goal.
Strong, steady offshore breezes have the potential to become an important source of electricity, but installing jumbo-jet sized gear in the harsh, marine environment is a complicated and expensive endeavor. The slow pace in China is matched by the U.S., which has no offshore wind farms after more than a decade of development efforts. In Europe, the only continent with any significant sea-based wind power, companies have scrapped plans for more than 5,700 megawatts since November.