Wind energy provided 14% of the European Union’s electricity in 2018, up from 12% in 2017, WindEurope said on February 21, citing statistics released by the wind industry group. Wind power capacity rose in Europe by 11.3 GW in 2018: 8.6 GW onshore and 2.65 GW offshore.
WindEurope CEO Giles Dickson noted that while and more people and businesses are benefitting from clean and affordable wind power, last year was the worst year for new wind energy installations since 2011. “Growth in onshore wind fell by over half in Germany and collapsed in the UK. And 12 EU countries didn’t install a single wind turbine last year,” Dickson said.
“Investments in future capacity were quite good last year thanks to the UK, Spain, Sweden – and thanks also to the further expansion of offshore wind. But the outlook for new investments is uncertain. There are structural problems in permitting, especially in Germany and France. And with the noble exception of Lithuania and despite improvements in Poland, there’s a lack of ambition in Central and Eastern Europe,” Dickson said.
The WindEurope CEO said the 2030 National Energy & Climate Plans “are a chance to put things right.” However, the draft Plans are badly lacking in detail, Dickson warned, citing as examples policy measures, auction volumes, how to ease permitting and remove other barriers to wind investments, and how to expand the grid. “Governments need to sort this out before they finalise the Plans this year,” he said.
Meanwhile, WindEurope data showed that continued growth in capacity and the use of more powerful turbines are helping to drive up wind’s share in the electricity mix. Denmark had the highest share of wind in its electricity last year (41%) followed by Ireland (28%) and Portugal (24%). Wind was at 21% of Germany’s electricity.
Wind accounted for 49% of all the new power generation capacity in Europe in 2018. But the amount of new wind capacity was down a third in 2017 (a record year). Wind energy won 9 GW of new capacity in auctions last year, compared to 13 GW in 2017. Capacity additions in Germany were down by over half after poorly designed auctions (now sorted) and problems with permitting (ongoing). And the number of new onshore wind farms dried up in the UK. Europe now has 189 GW of wind power capacity: 171 GW onshore and 18 GW offshore.
2018 was a record year for new wind capacity financed. 17 GW of future projects reached Final Investment Decision (FID): 13 GW onshore and 4.2 GW offshore. This is 45% more than in 2017 but only 20% more in euros invested, showing that costs continue to fall and you get more bang for your buck.