According to new statistics released today by WindEurope, 2017 was a record year for offshore wind in Europe after total capacity reached 15.8 gigawatts (GW)- an impressive increase of 25 percent in just one year.
A total of 13 new offshore wind farms were commissioned adding 3.1 GW. However, offshore wind in Europe is highly concentrated in a small number of countries as almost 98 percent is in the UK, Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Belgium.
More specifically, in 2017 the UK installed 1.7 GW accounting for more than 50 percent of EU’s aggregated additions and Germany 1.3 GW.
The year also saw the launch of a new wind technology, after Scotland commissioned the world’s first floating offshore wind farm. France also developed its first 2 megawatts (MW) offshore wind farm, Finland added 60MW and Belgium added another 165MW.
The previous record year was 2015 when additions reached 3GW. In 2016, new offshore wind experienced a steep decline as new projects accounted for roughly 1.5 GW.
After a short stagnation, offshore wind is set to keep breaking records in the next years. Currently, 11 offshore projects are already under construction which once completed will add a further 2.5GW.
Most importantly, the current project pipeline signals that offshore wind in Europe is well on track to reach the tremendous 25GW milestone by 2020.
Giles Dickson, WindEurope CEO, said: “A 25 percent 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. It just shows Europe’s ready to embrace a much higher renewables target for 2030. 35 percent is easily achievable. Not least now that floating offshore wind farms are also coming on line”.
However, Mr. Dickson worries that although the sector will see further growth in 2018 and 2019, long-term projections are still unclear as not a lot of countries have defined the capacity they want to install by 2030.
“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”, he concluded.