WindEurope, the European Wind Energy Association, published a report on the status of wind energy in Europe in 2017. According to the report, the European Union installed 16 GB of additional wind power capacity: a total of 15.7 GW with 12.5 GW onshore (9% annual growth on the year 2016) and 3.1 GW– offshore (the annual growth doubled).
For some countries, namely as Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Finland, Belgium and Croatia, the previous year was a record-setting time. Germany demonstrated the largest growth by installing 6.58 MWh of new capacity (15% more compared to the previous year), while 19% of German new WPPs are offshore.
Now, wind power accounts for 11.6% in the European total energy mix, second to natural gas-fired power plants. The total installed capacity of all WPPs in Europe reached 169 GW (153 GW – onshore, 16 GW - offshore).
Wind power won back its leading position in new capacity installation in Europe. In total, 28.3 GW of power capacity was built in 2017, where renewable energy accounted for 23.9 GW (85%) with wind power making more than a half of the total installed capacity: 55.3%, solar parks ranking the second – 21.5% (or 6 GW), and gas-fired power plants ranking the third – 9.2% (or 2.6 GW). The share of renewables is over 55% of all installed generating sources.
Europe demonstrates perseverance in its course to low-carbon energy and annually decommissions fossil fuel-fired power generators: 7.51 GW of coal, 2.25 GW - gas, 2.19 GW – fuel oil capacity. 640 MW of wind power capacity was decommissioned exclusively due to the equipment lifetime expiry.
The capacity and types of wind turbines installed in Europe in 2017 largely differ from country to country. For instance, the average capacity of onshore wind turbines in Denmark and Finland was 3.4 MW, while in Spain it was less than 2 MW. On average, the new onshore wind turbine capacity in Europe was 2.7 MW. Offshore wind turbines with the highest capacity were installed in the UK and Germany: 6.0 and 5.6 MW, accordingly. Pilot floating turbines were installed in France; their average capacity was relatively low: about 2 MW.
2017 was also a record-setting year in terms of investments into wind capacity. Final investment decisions (FIDs) were made on projects with a total capacity of 11.5 GW, where 2.5 GW are offshore and 9.0 GW are onshore wind turbines. By way of comparison, in 2016 FIDs were made on projects with a total capacity of just 10.3 GW. However, in financial terms, in 2017, investments into wind energy dropped by 19%, as compared to 2016, amounting to €22.3 bln. It was primarily due to the reduction of offshore turbine funding and overall decline of prices in the sector. At the same time, onshore turbine funding set a record of €14.8 bln.