The European offshore wind industry drew a record €14 billion in investments during the first half of 2016, according to WindEurope.
According to Wind Europe, the renamed European Wind Energy Association, the trade body for the wind industry in Europe, seven separate projects reached final investment decision so far this year, reaching a record €14 billion, and totaling 3.7 GW of new capacity. Unsurprisingly, for anyone who has been following European offshore development of late, the United Kingdom accounted for nearly three-quarters of all new investments.
However, only 511 MW was connected to the grid during the first half of 2016, 78% down on the same period a year earlier, though this is expected to pick up in 2017, and through to 2020. Only Germany and the Netherlands have added new capacity this year, installing 258 MW and 253 MW respectively
Cumulatively, the European offshore wind industry has installed 11.5 GW across 82 wind farms in 11 countries.
“The record investment numbers show a clear industry commitment to offshore wind,” said Giles Dickson, CEO of WindEurope. “We expect installations will pick up significantly in 2017 but there are a lot of challenges out there still on offshore wind. Not least the uncertainty over future volumes and regulation in many key markets for the period after 2020. We’re a long way from being able to say job done on offshore wind.”
During the first half of the year, 114 wind turbines were fully grid-connected over 4 wind farms — Westermeerwind and Gemini in the Netherlands, and Gode Wind I and Gode Wind II in Germany.
The first half of the year also saw energy ministers from 9 European countries sign a Memorandum of Understanding and Work Programme to enhance their cooperation on offshore wind. Additionally, 11 energy companies signed a declaration to reduce offshore wind costs to below €80/MWh by 2025.
“The costs of offshore wind are falling, but we need healthy volumes in the market to sustain this,” Dickson added.
“The current pipeline of projects is not enough, and the commitments Member States have so far made for beyond 2020 fall well short of what’s needed. This risks undermining Europe’s competitive position in offshore wind. We’re number one today with over 90% of the world’s capacity, but the US and China are now moving to rapidly expand their offshore wind investments.”