February 22 (Renewables Now) - The European wind industry brought online 11.7 GW of fresh wind power capacity in 2018, down 32% in annual terms, statistics by WindEurope showed on Thursday.
A total of 8.6 GW of onshore and 2.65 GW of offshore wind turbines became operational in the past year, which also saw the decommissioning of 0.4 GW of wind turbines, most of which onshore. In the EU alone, wind capacity additions were 10.1 GW, or 87% of the European total.
Capacity additions were led by Germany which installed 3.37 GW, followed by the UK with 1.9 GW and France with 1.56 GW. According to the statistics, 14 countries did not put on stream any wind installations in 2018 and 12 of them are EU member states.
At the end of last year, Europe had 189 GW of installed wind power capacity, based on 171 GW onshore and 18 GW offshore. Germany once again remained the leader in terms of total installed wind capacity, followed by Spain, the UK, France and Italy. Five other countries -- Sweden, Poland, Portugal and Denmark -- have more than 5 GW of operational wind farms.
Cumulative wind power capacity in the EU, meanwhile, reached 178.8 GW and accounted for 49% of all the new power generation capacity in the bloc in 2018. This made wind power the EU’s second largest form of power generation and is expected to overtake natural gas in terms of new capacity additions in 2019, WindEurope said.
With 362 TWh generated, wind supplied 14% of the EU’s electricity demand last year, up from 12% in 2017. Denmark had the highest share of wind in its electricity, 41%, while in Ireland and Portugal, the share was 28% and 24%, respectively. Wind accounted for 21% of the electricity in Germany.
WindEurope’s data shows that 17 GW of projects reached final investment decision (FID) in 2018, including 13 GW onshore and 4.2 GW offshore, making the year a record one for new wind capacity funding. The overall capacity of projects achieving FID was 45% higher than in 2017, a result of the falling costs in the industry. The value of investments, on the other hand, increased by 20% in annual terms to EUR 26.7 billion (USD 30.3bn).
“More and more people and businesses are benefitting from the clean and affordable power that wind delivers. But beneath the surface many things are not right,” said WindEurope’s CEO Giles Dickson. He pointed out that the outlook for new investments is uncertain due to structural problems in permitting, especially in Germany and France, while “a lack of ambition” is seen in Central and Eastern Europe.
(EUR 1.0 = USD 1.135)