European countries installed and connected to the grid 293 offshore wind turbines – representing 1.165 GW of capacity – in 2012, the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) has announced. This represents a 33% increase over the 874 MW installed in 2011.
Europe now has a total of 1,662 offshore wind turbines installed across 55 offshore wind farms in 10 European countries, for a total of 4.995 GW of capacity. The U.K. remains the leader in offshore wind, with nearly 60% of Europe's total offshore wind capacity, followed by Denmark (18%), Belgium (8%) and Germany (6%).
The offshore wind turbines installed in 2012 represent a total investment of approximately 4 billion euros. The European offshore wind forecasts for 2013 and 2014 are positive, with 14 offshore wind projects under construction that are due to increase installed capacity by a further 3.3 GW and bring Europe's total offshore wind energy capacity to 8.3 GW.
According to EWEA, Siemens was the leading turbine supplier in 2012, Bladt was the leading substructure supplier, Nexans and JDR were the leading inter-array cable suppliers, Prysmian was the leading export-cable supplier and DONG Energy was the leading developer.
The average size of an offshore wind turbine installed in 2012 was 4 MW, and the average offshore wind farm size was 271 MW. Although the average turbine size is not expected to increase over the next two years, the trend will likely be toward larger projects, EWEA says.
Financing activity grew faster than the sector itself during 2012, EWEA notes. In 2012, four nonrecourse debt-financing transactions were closed, involving almost 20 banks. Seven equity deals were struck in 2012, and the year saw a broader pool of companies buying into the sector.
‘Offshore wind power is growing solidly," says Justin Wilke, EWEA's policy director. ‘But solid installation figures do not alter the fact that the wind industry is being hit by political and regulatory instability, the economic crisis, the higher cost of capital and austerity. Europe is a world leader in offshore wind energy and could be creating even more jobs if governments gave greater policy certainty to investors, and resolved grid connection problems.’
More of Europe's offshore wind statistics for 2012 can be found here.