Offshore 'grows 25% in EU'
WindEurope says 3.1GW added last year bringing total to 15.8GW
Installed offshore wind capacity in Europe grew 25% last year to 15.8GW, an increase of 3.1GW on 2016, according to figures released by WindEurope.
WindEurope said 13 new offshore wind farms were completed in 2017, with the UK and Germany installing 1.7GW and 1.3GW respectively.
There are now more than 4000 offshore wind turbines operating across 11 countries in Europe, the wind industry body added.
The average size of new turbines was 5.9MW in 2017, a 23% increase on 2016, while the average size of new projects was 493MW, up 34% from the previous year.
A further 11 offshore wind farms are under construction, which will add another 2.9GW of installed capacity.
WindEurope said the current project pipeline should lead to 25GW installed by 2020, although offshore wind in Europe remains “heavily concentrated“ in a small number of countries – 98% in the UK, Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands and Belgium.
Final investment decisions (FIDs) were taken on a further 2.5GW new capacity last year totalling €7.5bn.
WindEurope said the investment figure was down on the previous year but this “reflects falling costs“ and that new investments could still get feed-in-tariffs in 2016.
“The transition to market-based support (auctions) has slowed down new investments, not least there’s a time-lag between winning an auction and confirming an investment,” it said.
Auctions held in 2016 and 2017 should translate to FIDs worth €9bn in 2018, WindEurope added.
The company's chief executive Giles Dickson said: “A 25% increase in one year is spectacular. Offshore wind is now a mainstream part of the power system. And the costs have fallen rapidly.
“Investing in offshore wind today costs no more than in conventional power generation.”
However, WindEurope warned that beyond 2020 the picture for offshore wind is less clear.
Dickson said: “Very few countries have defined yet what new volumes they want to install up to 2030.
“The national plans governments are preparing under the Clean Energy Package will tell us more.
“The message to governments as they prepare their plans is ‘go for it on offshore wind’: it’s perfectly affordable and getting cheaper still; it’s a stable form of power with increasing capacity factors; and it’s ‘made in Europe’ and supports jobs, industry and exports.”