Sian Crampsie

A record €14 billion was invested in Europe’s offshore wind energy sector in the first six months of 2016, according to Wind Europe.

Seven projects totalling 3.7 GW of capacity have reached final investment decision so far this year, with the UK accounting for nearly three-quarters of the new investments.

“The record investment numbers show a clear industry commitment to offshore wind,” said Giles Dickson, CEO of Wind Europe. However he warned of a lot of challenges still remaining, including uncertainty over future volumes and regulation in many markets after 2020.

Total installed offshore wind capacity in Europe now stands at 11 538 MW across 82 wind farms in 11 countries. Only Germany (258 MW) and the Netherlands (253 MW) added new capacity in the first 6 months of 2016. The average size of the 114 new turbines installed was 4.8 MW, up from 4.2 MW a year ago.

Investment in UK projects in the first six months totaled €10.369 billion. “Offshore wind has been a real success story for the UK, and these latest figures are further evidence of this – investment in UK infrastructure projects so far this year are worth over £8.5 billion across their lifetime,” said RenewableUK Deputy CEO Maf Smith.

“We know there’s more to come as well – the UK will invest over £20 billion in wind energy in the next five years,” added Smith.

According to WindEurope, installations offshore will pick up significantly in 2017. However continued healthy volumes are needed in the market to sustain the drive towards lower costs.

“The current pipeline of projects is not enough, and the commitments Member States have so far made for beyond 2020 fall well short of what’s needed,” said Dickson. “This risks undermining Europe’s competitive position in offshore wind. We’re number one today with over 90 per cent of the world’s capacity, but the US and China are now moving to rapidly expand their offshore wind investments.

“Clearer deployment goals and long-term visibility on tender volumes and timetables will mean a strong industry and supply chain – and competitive bidding leading to lower costs. It will also mean lower costs of capital, and with offshore wind so capex heavy, this is key to total cost reduction.”