Despite COVID constraints, Europe achieved a record amount of €26.3 billion of investments in new offshore wind farms in 2020, according to the latest WindEurope data.
The investments will finance 7.1 GW of new offshore wind that will be built in the coming years. Last year, Europe built 2.9 GW of new offshore wind. Europe now has 25 GW of offshore wind capacity. The EU aims to have 300 GW by 2050. The U.K., Netherlands, Germany and France all saw final investment decisions for major new offshore wind farms.
“Investors see that offshore wind is cheap, reliable and resilient – and that governments want more of it,” says Giles Dickson, CEO of WindEurope. “And these investments will create jobs and growth. Every new offshore wind turbine generates €15 million of economic activity. We expect the 77,000 people working in offshore wind today in Europe to be 200,000 by 2030.”
Europe installed 2.9 GW of new offshore wind capacity in 2020 – in line with WindEurope’s pre-COVID forecast. Nine new offshore wind farms came online across five countries. The Netherlands connected 1,493 MW and completed the development of the Borssele Wind Farm Zone. Belgium connected 706 MW, the U.K. 483 MW and Germany 219 MW. Portugal completed the installation of a floating offshore wind farm, co-funded by the EU’s NER300 program.
Europe now has 116 offshore wind farms across 12 countries – 40% of the capacity is in the U.K. France will finally start building its offshore wind farms after final investment decisions on 1 GW which will be built by 2023. The country is also planning four small floating offshore wind farms and this year will tender a large floating offshore wind farm. Poland passed the Offshore Wind Act and aims for 28 GW of offshore wind by 2050.
Offshore wind technology continues to evolve. The average size of the turbines installed last year was over 8 MW. 2020 saw big orders for GE’s 13 MW GE Haliade-X turbine. Siemens Gamesa announced a new 14 MW turbine. New offshore wind farms now deliver capacity factors in excess of 50%.
In 2020 six major power purchase agreements (PPAs) for offshore wind were signed. This shows the corporate demand for clean offshore wind energy. New PPA deals came from different sectors of the industry and included the large corporate off-takers Nestle, Amazon, Deutsche Bahn, Borealis and Ineos.