|January 23, 2012|
UK at the forefront of Europe's 866MW offshore wind surge
|The EU installed 866MW of offshore wind energy capacity during 2011, almost 90 per cent of which was in UK waters, new industry figures have revealed.|
Analysis published by the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) last week found that 235 new turbines were fully grid-connected across nine offshore wind farms at a cost of about €2.4bn.
A total of 1,371 offshore turbines have now come online across the EU, with a combined power capacity of over 3.8GW spread over 53 sites in 10 European countries.
Last year also saw offshore wind farms growing in both scale and technical difficulty: the average offshore wind farm size in 2011 was almost 200MW, up 29 per cent on the previous year, while average water depth stood at 22.8m.
The UK's dominant role in the sector was shown by its addition of 750MW of capacity during 2011, 87 per cent of the overall total.
The next biggest market, Germany, added 108MW of capacity, while Denmark came in third place with just 3.6MW of new capacity.
EWEA said 2,094MW is now installed in the UK, representing half of all installed offshore capacity in Europe.
The figures came in the same week as RenewableUK confirmed that the UK's total onshore and offshore wind capacity now totals more than 6GW -- a milestone that was achieved after the latest offshore wind farm off the coast of Cumbria came online.
EWEA's figures also confirmed that German engineering giant Siemens remains the dominant figure in the fast-expanding market, supplying 80 per cent of the MW installed offshore last year. SSE and RWE Innogy were the most active developers, while DONG Energy continued to be the most active equity player in offshore wind power.
Investment in the sector also defied the financial squeeze, with offshore non-recourse debt financing experiencing a 40 per cent increase on the previous year, up from €1.46bn in 2010 to €2.05bn in 2011.
While 2011's figure represents a two per cent fall on last year's 883MW of installed capacity, EWEA suggested further growth was expected over the coming years.
Its annual offshore wind statistics said a further nine projects currently under construction would bring an additional 2,375MW of capacity online, increasing the EU's total installed offshore wind power capacity by 62 per cent.
"The offshore wind sector witnessed a stable market in 2011," said Justin Wilkes, policy director at EWEA. "The strong project pipeline and financial developments highlight the importance of countries continuing to provide and develop stable long-term frameworks for offshore wind power in order to allow the industry to continue its development."
In related news, wind turbine manufacturer Vestas looks set to supply the turbines for an extension to Vattenfall's Kentish Flats wind farm in the Thames Estuary.
The Danish company said it has been appointed preferred supplier for between 10 and 17 3MW turbines for an extension that could add as much as 51MW onto the wind farm's current 90MW capacity.