Offshore wind could supply 14 of largest capitals in Europe with electricity

As reported by Renewable Energy Magazine last week, European offshore wind is buoyant, driving growth in clean energy investments. Indeed, new figures released today by EWEA show Europe now boasts 51% more capacity than in 2009, and with at least 19 GW in the pipeline could meet the electricity needs of London, Paris, Berlin and another 11 European cities in the future.

The European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) has published its “European offshore wind industry - key trends and statistics 2010” report today in Brussels, which shows that 308 new offshore wind turbines were installed in 2010. As a result, installed wind power capacity is up 51% on that recorded in the previous year, representing a new record for growth in Europe.

In total, 883 megawatts (MW) of new capacity, worth some €2.6 billion, were installed in 2010 on nine wind farms in five countries, bringing total installed capacity to 2,964 MW. This installed offshore wind capacity now supplies the equivalent of 2.9 million average EU households with electricity –comparable with the amounts of power consumed by the cities Berlin and Brussels together – from a total of 1,136 offshore wind turbines. In a normal wind year they would produce 11.5 Terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity.

“With over 50% percent market growth, 2010 sets a new record for European offshore wind energy. Meanwhile, the 29 new offshore turbine models announced during 2010 show a growing commitment to the offshore wind energy sector by large, global industrial players, offering a real boost for Europe’s economy, its efforts to tackle climate change, create green jobs and exports while reducing our dependence on imported fuel,” comments EWEA’s Chief Executive, Christian Kjaer.

Looking at a breakdown by country, the UK is currently European (and world) leader, with a total installed offshore wind capacity of 1,341 MW, followed by Denmark (854 MW), the Netherlands (249 MW), Belgium (195 MW), Sweden (164 MW), Germany (92 MW), Ireland (25 MW), Finland (26 MW) and Norway with 2.3 MW.

Offshore wind in fashion

With the rate of growth in onshore wind waning in some established European markets such as Spain, wind turbine manufacturers are turning their sights to the potential of offshore wind power. Indeed, during 2010, 29 new offshore turbine models were announced by 21 manufacturers, while 44 new turbine models have been announced by 33 manufacturers over the last two years.

2010 also saw an improving financing environment with private banks, financial institutions like the European Investment Bank (EIB), utilities and pension funds backing the sector. Two major deals completed in 2010 highlighted the brighter financial outlook: Thornton Bank C-Power and Trianel Wind Farm Borkum West both came to financial close. Nonetheless, Christian Kjaer still highlights that “finance remains a big challenge” although things are looking up, with more banks and other financing institutions ready to invest in large offshore wind projects.

Green light for 19 GW

EWEA forecasts continued strong growth next year. Between 1,000 and 1,500 MW of new offshore wind power capacity is expected to be fully grid connected in Europe during 2011, compared with 883 MW of new capacity in 2010. Ten European wind farms are currently under construction with a total of 3,000 MW – these will more than double the installed capacity in the 45 already grid connected offshore wind farms.

EWEA research shows that a total of 19,000 MW of offshore wind capacity is already fully consented. If constructed, it would generate 66.6 Terawatt hours of electricity in a normal wind year - enough to supply 14 of the largest capitals in Europe with electricity, including Paris, London and Berlin. Not included in this figure is large additional offshore wind energy capacity planned but not yet fully consented in the UK.

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