According to WindEurope’s annual wind statistics, Europe installed 16.8 GW (15.7 GW in the EU) of gross additional wind power capacity in 2017, marking a record year on annual installations. With a total net installed capacity of 169 GW, wind energy remains the second largest form of power generation capacity in Europe, closely approaching gas installations.
New wind farm installations were up 20% on 2016 and beat the previous 2015 record of 12.8 GW. Onshore wind capacity grew by 12.5 GW and offshore wind by 3.1 GW. 2017 was a record year for both onshore installations grew 9% while offshore grew 101% compared to 2016.
That it was a record year reflects the fact that lot of the new projects were ‘pushed through the gates’ to benefit from feed-in-tariffs and other old support schemes while they still applied. This was especially the case in Germany with its 5 GW of new onshore, and was also true for the UK and France.
Wind power installed more than any other form of power generation in Europe in 2017. Wind power accounted for 55% of total power capacity installations. Renewable energy as a whole accounted for nearly all new EU power installations in 2017: 23.9 GW out of a total 28.3 GW. Conventional power sources such as fuel oil and coal continue to decommission more capacity than they install. The amount of decommissioned gas-fired generation capacity was almost equal to the amount of newly-commissioned gas-fired generation capacity.
Wind energy investments accounted for 52% of the new clean energy finance in 2017, compared to 86% in 2016. 2017 was also a record year for new investments in future wind farms. 11.5 GW worth of projects reached Final Investment Decision: 9 GW in onshore wind and 2.5 GW in offshore. But the value of these investments at €22.3bn (€14.8bn onshore and €7.5bn offshore) was 19% down on 2016. Cost reductions in the wind industry supply chain and increased competition in auctions gave investors more capacity for less cash.
Germany was the biggest investor in 2017, generating a total financing activity of €6.7bn for the construction of new onshore and offshore wind farms. This accounts for 30% of the total wind energy investments made in 2017. The UK came second to Germany with €5bn, or 22% of the total.
Wind energy in Europe now has a total installed capacity of 169 GW: 153 GW onshore and 16 GW offshore. Germany remains the country with the largest installed wind power capacity (56 GW). It’s followed by Spain (23 GW), the UK (19 GW) and France (14 GW). With a share of 18% wind remains the second largest form of power generation capacity in Europe, closing in on natural gas. Wind energy generated 336 TWh in 2017, enough to cover 11.6% of EU electricity demand. In Germany wind was 20% of power. It was 44% in Denmark, and 24% in Ireland and Portugal.
“Despite the strong figures the medium and longer term outlook for wind is uncertain. The transition to auctions has been messier than hoped. And crucially we lack clarity from many Governments on their ambitions for renewables post-2020. Countries need to start clarifying how much wind energy they want to deploy in the future. This will give visibility to the industry, allowing us to plan ahead and reduce costs. And it will allow others such as Transmission System Operators to plan the necessary infrastructure build-out,” said WindEurope CEO, Giles Dickson.