Wind energy in Europe experienced a bumper year for installations with 6.1 GW of additional energy capacity installed within the first six months of 2017. These figures were released by WindEurope, an organization actively promoting wind energy in Europe and the rest of the world, last July 27.
Of the 6.1 GW installed, 4.8GW was accounted for by onshore wind capacity installations while 1.3GW was accounted for by offshore wind capacity installations. The leading countries for onshore wind installations were Germany with 2.2GW, United Kingdom (UK) at 1.2 GW, and France with 492 MW. For offshore wind installations, Germany led the pack of EU member countries, followed by the UK, Belgium, and Finland.
Regarding investments, €8.3 billion went to asset financing for the first six months of 2017. This was made up of €5.4 billion set aside for onshore investments and €2.9 billion for offshore investments. It should be noted that the offshore investments for the first half of 2017 were significantly lower than the €14 billion investments done for the similar period last year, 2016.
A worrying trend to point out is the fact that the market was apparently becoming concentrated within a handful of European Union (EU) member countries. Germany accounted for 53% of the total investments for both offshore and onshore wind installations for the period reported. The UK did not register any offshore investment activity for the first half of 2017.
Pierre Tardieu, the Chief Policy Officer for WindEurope, mentioned some market observations. He said that growth within installations of wind capacity is driven largely by a handful of markets. Mr. Tardiue further commented that to date, about 10 EU member countries have yet to put up even one MW.
When the UK Renewable Obligation system comes to an end, the market will swing towards greater focus in Germany for onshore wind. Mr. Tardieu also expressed concern about the financial activities in the offshore wind sector. He pointed out the industry’s need to identify volumes for beyond 2020 to keep costs down. Mr. Tardieu further urged all Member States to finalize their corresponding 2030 National Energy and Climate Plans as soon as possible. Together with the auctioning schedule of three years, which was drawn up by the European Commission, Tardieu said that these national plans would provide the “needed visibility to the wind energy supply chain”.
The European Union (EU) has identified a goal that by 2020, at least 20% of all power requirements will met by energy from renewable sources. The European Commission’s published a white paper back in 1997 on renewable energy that set a target of 40,000 MW of wind power to be installed in the EU by 2010. This goal was achieved five years earlier in 2005.
With the Renewable Energy Directive of 2008, each Member State was legally bound to draw up their individual National Action Plans to meet their renewable energy targets for 2020. The goal set was for wind energy to contribute to about 35% of all power generated by the renewable energy sector by 2020. Broken down to specifics, the target was to have 165.6 GW onshore and 43.9 GW offshore for a total of 209.6 GW wind capacity installations. Today, according to data provided by WindEurope, wind energy already produced 11% of all the power consumption within the EU.