Europe’s offshore wind industry ‘facing significant challenges’ despite doubling capacity
Europe has installed 277 wind turbines in the first half of 2013, adding more than 1 Gigawatt (GW) of capacity to the grid, according to the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA).
The increased capacity is double the amount installed in the same period in 2012 which saw 523.2 megawatts (MW) connected to the grid.
Adding 513.5MW to Europe’s capacity this year, the UK has driven the increase with new wind farms in Gunsfleet Sands, Lincs, Teeside and the recently inaugurated London Array, the world’s largest wind farm. From January to the end of June, the UK installed 146 wind turbines.
A considerable contribution also came from Denmark with 98 new turbines totalling 352.8MW, while Germany’s 21 newly installed turbines added 105MW to Europe’s capacity.
The remaining capacity came from Belgium, which connected 73.8MW through 12 installed turbines.
However, the EWEA said that despite this increase the industry is noticing a slowing down of project funding and the amount of orders.
Director of Policy at the EWEA, Justin Wilkes, said: “Financing of new projects has slowed down with only one project reaching financial close so far this year. This, together with a lack of orders being placed for offshore wind turbines, substructures and components, reflects the regulatory uncertainty in key offshore markets including Germany and the UK. It highlights the significant challenges faced by the offshore wind sector.
“Offshore wind is a new industry that creates jobs, reduces fossil fuel imports and in which Europe is a world leader with huge export opportunities. The installation rate shows what the European offshore wind industry is now capable of. But to attract investment to the sector governments need to provide a stable regulatory framework and the EU should set a binding renewable target for 2030”, added Wilkes.
Total offshore capacity in Europe is now at 6,040MW through 58 wind farms across ten countries, up from 4,336MW in June 2012. Twenty-one offshore wind farms are under construction or in preparation, with a total capacity of 5,694MW.