Although 4.9 GW of commercial offshore wind farms are currently under construction in Europe, the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) has warned that the sector has slowed down and may continue to contract over the next two years.
According to a report from the group, 224 new offshore wind turbines, totaling 781 MW, were fully grid connected in Europe during the first six months of 2014 – 25% less than during the same period in 2013 (1,045 MW). However, the report also says 282 wind turbines have been installed but not connected during this period, making a total of 310 offshore machines awaiting grid connection. Once connected, they will add a further 1.2 GW of offshore wind energy capacity.
‘Despite offshore wind power installations being lower than in the first six months of last year, it remains the fastest-growing power sector in Europe,’ says Justin Wilkes, deputy CEO of EWEA.
The report says there are currently 16 European offshore wind farms totaling 4.9 GW under construction. "However, despite significant financing activity in the first half of the year, the contraction in installations we have witnessed in these first six months may well continue into 2015 and 2016," cautions Wilkes.
"To ensure healthy growth in the latter part of the decade, and to ensure offshore wind energy plays its role in meeting the EU's competitiveness, security, renewable and climate objectives, the industry must be given longer-term visibility," Wilkes continues. "An ambitious deal on the 2030 climate and energy package by the EU's heads of state in October would send the right signal, making their decision particularly important for the offshore wind sector."
The report says the total installed offshore wind capacity in Europe is now 7,343 MW across 73 wind farms in 11 countries. According to EWEA, the projects are capable of producing 27 TWh of electricity – enough power to meet the needs of over 7 million households, or the entire population of the Netherlands.
The full report is available here.