The European wind energy industry invested a total of €65 billion ($73 billion) in 2018, including €27 billion on new wind farms which, thanks to cost reductions, will finance a record 16.7 gigawatts (GW) of new wind capacity.
As the cost of wind energy technology matures it becomes cheaper, and according to the latest Financing and Investment Trends report from the European wind energy trade association, WindEurope, 1 megawatt (MW) of new onshore wind capacity now only requires €1.4 million in capital expenditure, down from €2 million in 2015, while 1 MW of offshore wind capacity only requires €2.5 million in capital expenditure, down from €4.5m in 2015.
In total, €65 billion was committed by the European wind industry in 2018, led by €26.7 billion in new asset financing which will finance a record 16.7 GW of new wind capacity. Onshore wind also accounted for 38% of total new power investments across Europe, while new offshore wind investment accounted for 24% of the region’s total new power investments — strong indicators of the importance of wind in the European energy mix.
The majority of this new capacity will be onshore wind, accounting for 12.5 GW, though offshore wind nevertheless continues to grow, and will account for 4.2 GW of 2018 investment. In total, 190 wind farms over 22 different European countries reached Final Investment Decision (FID) in 2018, led by Northern and Western Europe.
Compared to 2017’s investment figures, the European wind energy industry is showing significant signs of growth and maturity. A total of €51.2 billion was invested by the wind energy in 2017, with €22.3 billion towards new asset financing to yield 11.5 GW of new capacity. Worth noting, also, is the fact that 2017’s figure was down on 2016, which saw €28 billion invested in new wind farms, but which only amounted to 10.3 GW.
“Wind energy got 60% of all the new investments in power generation capacity in Europe last year,” said WindEurope CEO Giles Dickson. “And it was a record year for the amount of new wind energy capacity financed. Cost reduction means investors now get more MW per euro they invest. And lenders are more comfortable with the risks so the costs of finance are falling too.
“But Europe needs to keep investing significant amounts in wind if it’s going to meet its 32% renewables target for 2030. The money is out there. But there aren’t enough bankable projects. One problem is permitting: the processes are slower and more complex than they were. Another problem is the lack of visibility today on governments’ plans for renewables. The National Energy Plans they have to write this year are key to resolving this. If they’re clear and ambitious this’ll provide investment signals which will make projects happen.”