EU wind installations breeze past coal and gas

The European wind energy industry installed more than twice as much new capacity as coal and gas combined in 2014, according to new figures released on Tuesday.

Across the 28 Member States, the wind industry connected a total of 11,800MW to the grid, compared to 3,300 MW and 2,300 MW from coal and gas respectively. 

The UK was the second most prolific installer, with 1,738MW added in 2014, behind only Germany (5,279MW).

Existing energy supply was also decarbonised, as the coal and gas industries in Europe both retired more capacity than they commissioned in 2014.

Wind take-off

By contrast, wind energy capacity in Europe increased 5% year-on-year from 2013, providing enough grid electricity to cover 10% of the EU’s electricity consumption – up from 8% the year before.

European Wind Energy Association chief executive officer Thomas Becker said: “Europe is at a turning point for investment in renewables and particularly wind.

“Ploughing financial capital into the industries of old in Europe is beginning to look unwise. By contrast, renewables are pushing ahead and investments in wind remain attractive.”

Renewable power plants as a whole accounted for 79.1% of new installations during 2014.

Policy security

Becker said: “These numbers very much show Europe’s continued commitment to renewable and wind energy. But this is no time for complacency.

“The uncertainty over the regulatory framework for the energy sector is a threat to the continued drive toward sustainable and home-grown energy that will guarantee Europe’s energy security and competitiveness for the long-term.”

“It’s time for Europe’s political leaders to create a truly European Energy Union and send a clear signal of their support for the shift to a secure and sustainable energy system. Political will on their part is an essential piece of the puzzle.”

Market concentration

On a country-by-country breakdown, Germany and the United Kingdom accounted for 59.5% of total EU wind energy installations in 2014, reflecting a concentration of capacity in certain areas rather than a equal spread of installations.

“Markets in eastern and southern Europe continue to struggle in the face of erratic and harsh changes in the policy arena,” said Becker

“We expect this concentration to continue into 2015.” 

New figures from the National Grid last week, revealed that UK wind energy broke new records for monthly, weekly and half-hourly generation in January, providing enough energy to power almost nine million UK homes.

REPORT: EWEA Annual Statistics 2014

 Brad Allen

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