The wind parks operating in the member states of the European Union (EU) last year produced 14 percent of EU`s electricity demand. This is 2 percent more than in 2017, according to the calculations published by Wind Europe. During 2018, combined capacity of 11.3 GW of wind parks were installed in the EU: 8.6 GW were installed onshore and 2.65 GW offshore.
The steady increase in turbine power has led to an increase of the share of wind power in the total balance sheet. The country that produced the most of its electricity demand in wind power plants last year was Denmark at 41 percent. Ireland, Portugal and Germany were next, with wind power generating 28 percent, 24 percent, and 21 percent of electricity demand per year, respectively. By comparison, in Lithuania this indicator was 10 percent.
Last year, wind energy projects accounted for 49 percent of all new installations in Europe. However, the combined capacity of the newly-built wind power plants was one third lower than the record achieved in 2017. Wind energy won 9 GW of new capacity in auctions last year, compared to 13 GW in 2017. Nonetheless, the poorly organized auctions and challenges in issuing permits has led to a reduction in the number of new projects in Germany by half. In addition, no new onshore wind power plants were installed in the UK. Europe now has 189 GW of wind power capacity: 171 GW onshore and 18 GW offshore.
Also, last year a decision was made to finance future wind energy projects that will generate a record-breaking 17 GW of power: plants with a 13 GW power capacity are planned to be installed onshore and 4.2 GW offshore. This is 45 percent more than last year, but the projected investment is only 20 percent higher. All of this means that the cost of wind energy projects is continuing to fall.
“The amount of electricity generated by wind power plants in the EU has increased from 12 to 14 percent each year. An increasing number of companies, and more and more private consumers, can now use clean and affordable energy. However, the wind energy sector is also facing challenges – last year, the lowest number of new power plants was installed since 2011. In addition, the number of onshore wind power plants being installed in Germany has fallen by half, and a significant decline can be seen in the UK as well. In total, no wind power plants were installed in 12 European countries,” said Giles Dickson, CEO of WindEurope.
However, Dickson indicated that the investments in future wind energy projects in the UK, Spain and Sweden were pretty good, and the development of offshore wind parks has also made a contribution. However, the future of the investments is uncertain. There are structural problems with the authorization procedures, especially in Germany and France, and the Central and Eastern European countries have not shown much ambition to develop wind energy with the exception of Lithuania and Poland.
“National energy and climate plans and strategies are an opportunity to meet our current challenges. However, their original versions lack specificities: precise policy measures, the volume of auctions, and the steps to improve the authorization procedures and reduce the barriers to new investments. Governments should pay more attention to these issues before finalizing their plans,” said Dickson.
Read more about the 2018 analysis by WindEurope here.