Wind energy increase

In 2009, a total of eight new wind farms consisting of 199 offshore wind turbines, with a combined power generating capacity of 577MW, were connected to the grid in Europe, a growth rate of 54 per cent compared to the 373MW installed during 2008.

For 2010, the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) expects the completion of 10 additional European offshore wind farms, adding 1,000MW and equivalent to a market growth of 75 per cent compared to 2009.

‘This is an incredibly good result considering the continued difficulties of obtaining project finance for large projects,’ said Christian Kjaer, EWEA chief executive. ‘Independent project developers, in particular, are still struggling. For the offshore wind power industry to continue its development, it is vital that governments and the European Commission provide policy frameworks that stimulate investor interest and allow project developers to move their plans forward.’

Currently, 17 offshore wind farms are under construction in Europe, totalling more than 3,500MW, with just less than half being constructed in UK waters. In addition, a further 52 offshore wind farms have won full consent in European waters, totalling more than 16,000MW, with just over half of this capacity planned in Germany.

In 2009, the turnover of the offshore wind industry was approximately €1.5bn (£1.3bn) and the EWEA expects this to double in 2010 to approximately €3bn.

‘The push given by the decision to inject €255m under the European Union’s European Economic Recovery Plan into the offshore wind sector showed that decision makers understand that offshore wind is key to Europe’s future energy supplies. The European Investment Bank’s (EIB) increased involvement will also be instrumental for the future success of offshore wind’s contribution to European recovery, job creation and technology leadership,’ said Kjaer.

More than 100GW of projects are at various stages of planning and could provide enough power to meet 10 per cent of European electricity demand.

Europe is the world leader in offshore wind with 828 wind turbines and a cumulative capacity of 2,056MW spread across 38 offshore wind farms in nine European countries.

The UK and Denmark are the current leaders, with a 44 per cent and 30 per cent share respectively. In 2009, five countries built new offshore wind farms: UK (284MW), Denmark (230MW), Sweden (30MW), Germany (30MW) and Norway (2.3MW).