The European offshore wind industry had an impressive year in 2017, increasing capacity by 25% with 3.1 gigawatts of new capacity installed, bringing the region’s total offshore wind capacity up to 15.8 gigawatts.
WindEurope, the region’s trade body representing the wind industry, announced on Tuesday that 13 new wind farms were completed in 2017 — including the world’s first floating wind farm, Hywind Scotland — worth 3.1 GW (gigawatts), and increasing the region’s total offshore wind capacity by 25% to an impressive 15.8 gigawatts (GW).
“A 25% increase in one year is spectacular,” crowed Giles Dickson, WindEurope CEO. “Offshore wind is now a mainstream part of the power system. And the costs have fallen rapidly. Investing in offshore wind today costs no more than in conventional power generation. It just shows Europe’s ready to embrace a much higher renewables target for 2030. 35% is easily achievable. Not least now that floating offshore wind farms are also coming online.”
The average wind turbine size in 2017 was 5.9 MW (megawatts), an increase of 23% on 2016’s average size, helping push the average wind farm size to 493 MW, a 34% increase. Technological innovation has seen turbine prices drop even as turbine power has increased, allowing developers to increase the size of turbine and project size without increasing costs.
Europe also currently boasts 11 projects already under construction which will add another 2.9 GW, and a project pipeline which will likely result in total European offshore wind capacity reaching 25 GW by 2020.
“We’ll see further growth in 2018 and 2019,” Dickson added. “But the longer term outlook for offshore wind is unclear. Very few countries have defined yet what new volumes they want to install up to 2030. The National Plans governments are preparing under the Clean Energy Package will tell us more. The message to Governments as they prepare their plans is ‘go for it on offshore wind’: it’s perfectly affordable and getting cheaper still; it’s a stable form of power with increasing capacity factors; and it’s ‘made in Europe’ and supports jobs, industry and exports”.