EU Offshore Wind Energy Pipeline Projects Will Boost Capacity 62%; 866 MW of New Capacity in 2011

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Newly installed offshore wind energy capacity in the European Union totaled 866 megawatts (MW) of clean, grid-connected electricity in 2011, lower, but roughly in-line with, 2010’s total of 866 MW, the European Wind Energy Association reported today with the release of its annual industry statistical review. Worth approximately 2.4 billion euros (~$3.05 billion), 235 new wind turbines were installed in 2011 across nine offshore wind farms.

“Despite the economy-wide financial squeeze, 2011 saw a 40 per cent increase on the previous year in offshore non-recourse debt financing, up from 1.46 billion Euros in 2010 to 2.05 billion Euros in 2011,” EWEA policy director Justin Wilkes stated in an EWEA press release.

40,000 MW of Offshore Wind by 2020

The EWEA is working to reach a target of 40,000 MW of installed offshore wind capacity across the EU by 2020. That would supply about 4% of total electricity consumption across the 27-nation group.

Though offshore wind’s growing fast in the EU, that’s a hugely ambitious target. A total of 1371 offshore wind turbines across 53 grid-connected offshore wind farms in 10 European countries now mean a total generating capacity of 3813 MW. Another nine offshore wind farms are under construction at present, which will bring an additional 2375 MW online. Completion of these projects will increase the EU’s total offshore wind energy capacity by 62%.

EU agencies have, and continue to look closely at offshore wind’s potential. The EWEA notes that the EC, in its 2008 Communication on offshore wind energy, stated that “offshore wind can and must make a substantial contribution to meeting the EU’s energy policy objectives through a very significant increase – in the order of 30-40 times by 2020 and 100 times by 2030 – in installed capacity compared to today.”

“The EEA estimates the technical potential of offshore wind in 2020 at 25,000 TWh, between six and seven times greater than projected electricity demand, rising to 30,000 TWh in 2030, seven times greater than projected electricity demand.”

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“The strong project pipeline and financial developments highlight the importance of countries continuing to provide and develop stable long-term frameworks for offshore wind power in order to allow the industry to continue its development,” Wilkes added.

A large majority of the EU’s 2011 grid-connected offshore wind turbines–87%–were set down in British waters. Siemens dominated the market, supplying 80% of offshore wind turbines, by capacity. The UK’s SSE and Denmark’s DONG Energy were again the most active equity investors in the sector.

A full copy of the report on EWEA’s website.

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