Europe installed 2.6 GW of new offshore wind energy capacity in 2018, according to statistics released by WindEurope. That’s an 18% increase in Europe’s offshore wind capacity.
Fifteen new offshore windfarms came on line. The UK and Germany accounted for 85% of the new capacity: 1.3 GW and 969 MW respectively. Europe now has 105 offshore windfarms across 11 countries with a total capacity of 18.5 GW. This is around 10% of the total installed wind energy capacity in Europe – the rest is onshore.
The size and scale of offshore wind continues to rise. The average size of the new turbines installed last year was 6.8 MW, 15% up on 2017. The UK installed the world’s biggest offshore turbines – 8.8 MW – and opened the world’s largest offshore windfarm, Walney 3 extension, which is 657 MW.
Belgium and Germany also opened their largest windfarms to date. A further six offshore windfarms are currently under construction in Europe, including the world’s first 1 GW+ offshore windfarm – Hornsea 1 in the UK.
A further 12 new offshore wind projects reached a final investment decision in 2018. These represent a further 4.2 GW of capacity and €10.3Bn (US$11.7Bn) of investment. The amount invested was 37% up on 2017 but the capacity covered was up 91%, showing how quickly costs are falling.
WindEurope chief executive Giles Dickson said “Offshore wind continues to grow strongly in Europe. The total capacity expanded by a further 18% last year. Offshore wind now represents 2% of all the electricity consumed in Europe. And with a big pipeline of projects under construction and development, this number will rise significantly.
“The technology keeps developing. The turbines keep getting bigger. And the costs keep falling. It’s now no more expensive to build offshore wind than it is to build coal or gas plants. And it’s a good deal cheaper than new nuclear.
“More and more governments are recognising the merits of offshore wind. Poland is the latest to embrace it with an ambitious plan to build 10 GW by 2040.
“But a few countries are underperforming on it and risk missing out. Sweden is not building any offshore wind despite great potential. Germany has only a modest target for 2030. And the ‘gamma minus’ performer is France which still has no offshore windfarms nor is it clear when they will have.
“These countries have a chance to put things right this year with their National Energy and Climate Plans. The should grab it with two hands.”