According to the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA), offshore wind installations surpassed previous year-long records in the first half of the year, reaching more than 2,342MW.

This represents a tripling of grid-connected capacity compared with the same period last year, with total installed offshore wind capacity hitting 10,393MW across 11 countries.

The first half of 2015 has seen 584 wind turbines fully connected to the grid. The average machine size also rose from 3.5MW in 2014 to 4.2MW this year.

Long-term visibility

EWEA chief policy officer Kristian Ruby said: “It has taken the offshore wind industry just six months to set the best year the sector has ever seen in terms of installed capacity.”

She said: “To ensure healthy growth in the coming years, and to guarantee offshore wind energy plays its role in meeting the EU’s competitiveness, security and decarbonisation objectives, the industry needs long-term visibility.”

The first months of the year have seen the UK connect 140 new turbines, and 522 MW to the grid.

Germany connected 406 new turbines, adding more than 1,700 MW of new capacity.

Green infrastructure

Ruby said reforms were needed to the European electricity market, in addition to improving grid infrastructure to ensure the integration of wind energy.

Infrastructure developments are thought to be crucial for the UK’s green energy development, but integrating distributed power generation systems such as wind and solar power with large-scale generation plants has presented challenges.

Last year, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) found 80% of businesses felt a reliance on outmoded fossil fuel infrastructure raised concerns about the UK’s future energy security, affecting investment decisions.

Ruby added it was important EU member states met renewable energy commitments towards the end of the decade and called on them to “set out a clear game plan to meet Europe’s 2030 targets.”

Subsidy cuts

Recent cuts to the Climate Change Levy in the UK, which subsidised renewable energy generation, have put renewable energy investments at increased risk, according to analysts GlobalData. However, the renewable energy analysts estimate the changes will not overly damage the offshore wind sector, which is forcast to reach more than 23GW by 2025.

The UK and France are thought to be struggling to meet their 2020 renewable energy targets, according to recent progress reports. Binding targets require the EU to source 20% of their energy from renewable sources.

The UK currently generates 7% of its energy from renewable energy, however 2015 has seen the UK generate around 22% of its electricity from renewable sources, with a steady growth in biomass production and solar installations.

Matt Field

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