The European wind energy industry invested a total of €51.2 billion ($63.22 billion) in 2017, with €22.3 billion ($27.54) of this going towards new wind farms, a figure down on the €28 billion invested during 2016, but allowing for more capacity.
These are the findings from European wind energy trade body WindEurope’s latest publication, Financing and Investment Trends, which analyzed wind energy investment figures for 2017. As can be seen below, the lion’s share of 2017 investment went to new asset financing (i.e., new wind farms), but was also directed towards refinancing projects, acquiring projects, company acquisitions, and capital markets.
“With €51.2 billion, wind energy accounted for half of all power sector investments in 2017,” said WindEurope Chief Policy Officer Pierre Tardieu. “It’s delivering more capacity for less money. This is largely due to increased competition in auctions and technology advances that are driving cost reductions in the supply chain.”
Tardieu makes an important point because investment on new projects was down — from €28 billion to €22.3 billion. But it is important to look at this in the right context, considering that investment in new capacity yielded 11.5 gigawatts (GW), compared to the 10.3 GW in 2017. This is a trend being seen around the world for both wind and solar — technology cost reductions mean that less money is needed to build even more capacity.
Other highlights from the report which showcase the range of investment being directed towards wind energy in Europe include project acquisitions doubling in value in 2017 to €9 billion, up from $4.3 billion in 2016. Company acquisitions also doubled in value as the wind energy industry continues to consolidate, up from €2.5 billion in 2016 to €5.3 billion in 2017.
Banks extended €15.5 worth of new non-recourse debt in 2016 for the construction of new wind farms in 2016 and the refinancing of existing wind farms, while green bonds raised a total of €17.5 billion in 2017, representing the highest level of issuance in the last five years.
Looking forward, WindEurope expects that investment volumes in 2018 will increase due to the roll-out of auctions across the region, not to mention the impending final investment decisions for a bunch of existing projects. Specifically, WindEurope tracked 14 GW worth of wind projects awarded support through 2017 and the first quarter of 2018, and in the first quarter of 2018 alone Europe invested €3 billion in new wind energy projects for a total of 30 new onshore wind projects with a combined capacity of 1.9 GW.