February 13 (Renewables Now) - The EU wind industry had a record year in 2017 with 15.7 GW of new capacity installed, an increase of 20% compared to 2016.
A total of 12.5 GW was installed onshore and 3.1 GW offshore, statistics from trade body WindEurope showed today. New installations for the whole of Europe were 16.8 GW.
Capacity additions were led by Germany which installed a record 6.6 GW. A further six EU countries added record wind power capacity last year -- the UK, which installed 4.3 GW, France 1.7 GW, Finland 577 MW, Belgium 476 MW, Ireland 426 MW and Croatia 147 MW. Germany is also the leader in terms of total installed wind capacity with 56 GW. Next come Spain with 23 GW, the UK with 19 GW and France with 14 GW. Overall, the EU now has 169 GW of installed wind capacity, including 153 GW onshore and 16 GW offshore.
Wind accounted for 55% of all EU power capacity installations in 2017 and for 12% of EU electricity demand. Its share of power generation capacity in Europe has reached 18%, second only to natural gas.
In 2017, a record 11.5 GW of projects -- 9 GW onshore and 2.5 GW offshore -- reached final investment decision, up from 10.3 GW in 2016. The value of these investments, however, fell 19% year-on-year to EUR 22.3 billion (USD 27.5bn) as a result of cost reductions and higher competition in auctions.
"That it was a record year reflects the fact that lot of the new projects were ‘pushed through the gates’ to benefit from feed-in-tariffs and other old support schemes while they still applied," said WindEurope's chief executive Giles Dickson.
He added that the outlook is uncertain as the transition to auctions has not been as smooth as hoped and there is not clarity from many governments on renewables ambitions post-2020. Wind energy is cheap and increasing stable, and governments should not fear from being ambitious on the technology and renewables more broadly, Dickson says.
(EUR 1 = USD 1.232)