Europe added 2.6 GW of new offshore wind capacity in 2018, according to new statistics from industry group WindEurope.

Fifteen new offshore wind farms were brought on line last year, leading to an 18 per cent increase in offshore capacity, WindEurope said. Europe now has 105 operating offshore wind farms across 11 countries with a total combined capacity of 18.5 GW.

“Offshore wind continues to grow strongly in Europe,” said Giles Dickson, WIndEUrope CEO. “The total capacity expanded by a further 18 per cent last year. Offshore wind now represents two per cent of all the electricity consumed in Europe. And with a big pipeline of projects under construction and development, this number will rise significantly.”

WindEurope says that trends in size and scale of offshore wind farms are continuing: the average size of the new turbines installed last year was 6.8 MW, 15 per cent up on 2017. The UK installed the world’s biggest offshore turbines – 8.8 MW – and opened the world’s largest offshore wind farm – Walney 3 extension, 657 MW. Belgium and Germany also opened their largest wind farms to date.

“The technology keeps developing,” said Dickson. “The turbines keep getting bigger. And the costs keep falling. It’s now no more expensive to build offshore wind than it is to build coal or gas plants. And it’s a good deal cheaper than new nuclear.”

A further six offshore wind farms are currently under construction in Europe, including the world’s first 1 GW+ offshore wind farm – Hornsea 1 in the UK.

In 2018, the UK and Germany accounted for 85 per cent of the new capacity installed. A further 12 new offshore wind projects reached Final Investment Decision in Europe in 2018, representing 4.2 GW of capacity and €10.3 billion of investment.