Europe adds 'record 3.6GW of offshore wind'

06/02/2020 09:42 Wind


WindEurope warns that much more capacity is needed each year to meet EU decarbonisation goals.

A record volume of new offshore wind capacity was installed in Europe in 2019, according to research by trade body WindEurope.


WindEurope said 3.6GW was built offshore last year, with 10 new wind farms coming online across five countries.


The UK accounted for nearly half of the new capacity with 1.7GW, followed by Germany (1.1GW), then Denmark (374MW) and Belgium (370MW).

Total offshore capacity in Europe is now 22GW, with the UK and Germany accounting for three-quarters, and Denmark, Belgium and the Netherlands nearly all of the rest.


The average offshore turbine size installed last year was 7.8MW, including GE's 12MW Haliade-X prototype installed for testing in Rotterdam.


Offshore wind farms are also getting bigger, WindEurope said. The average size is now over 600MW, up from 300MW in 2010.


The launch of the new Portuguese floating offshore project – WindFloat Atlantic – means Europe now has 45MW of floating offshore wind.


France, the UK, Norway and Portugal are all developing new floating projects, with the French planning to auction a large-scale floating wind farm in 2021, WindEurope said.


Offshore wind costs also continue to fall significantly, with last year’s auctions in the UK, France and the Netherlands delivering prices for consumers in the range of €40-50 a megawatt-hour.


The trade body said these prices are cheaper than building new gas, coal or nuclear power plants.


Investment decisions were made on four new offshore wind farms last year representing 1.4GW in capacity and €6bn in investments, it added.


However, WindEurope warned that the current level of new installations and investments is behind what is needed to deliver what the European Commission says Europe requires to decarbonise the energy system and deliver the latter's Green Deal.


The commission has said between 230GW and 450GW of offshore wind are needed by 2050, requiring Europe to build 7GW of new capacity a year by 2030 and ramp up to 18GW a year by 2050.


WindEurope chief executive Giles Dickson said: “Europe really embraced offshore wind in 2019.


“Auction prices showed it’s now cheaper to build offshore wind than new gas or coal plants. Several governments raised the amount they want to build.


“This time last year we were looking at 76GW by 2030. Now it’s 100GW.”


“But we’re not currently building enough to deliver on that, let alone the more ambitious volumes needed to deliver the Green Deal.”


He said the “bigger numbers are doable and affordable” and called for the new EU Offshore Wind Strategy in the Green Deal to map out clearly how to mobilise the investments needed for 450GW.


“Crucially it should provide a masterplan (a) to develop the offshore and onshore grid connections and (b) to get the maritime spatial planning right,” Dickson said.


“This will require ever closer cooperation between governments in the North Sea and the Baltic.


“And this should also include the UK – they were half of Europe’s investment in offshore wind in the last decade and will remain by far the biggest market.”


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