“This is an incredibly good result considering the continued difficulties of obtaining project finance for large projects”, said Christian Kjaer, EWEA Chief Executive. “Independent project developers, in particular, are still struggling. For the offshore wind power industry to continue its development, it is vital that governments and the European Commission provide policy frameworks that stimulate investor interest and allow project developers to move their plans forward,” said Kjaer.
Currently, 17 offshore wind farms are under construction in Europe, totaling more than 3,500 MW, with just under half being constructed in UK waters. In addition, a further 52 offshore wind farms have won full consent in European waters, totaling more than 16,000 MW, with just over half of this capacity planned in Germany.
In 2009, the turnover of the offshore wind industry was approximately €1.5 billion, and EWEA expects this to double in 2010 to approximately €3 billion.
“The push given by the decision to inject €255 million under the European Union’s European Economic Recovery Plan into the offshore wind sector showed that decision makers understand that offshore wind is key to Europe’s future energy supplies. The European Investment Bank’s (EIB) increased involvement will also be instrumental for the future success of offshore wind’s contribution to European recovery, job creation and technology leadership,” concluded EWEA’s CEO.
More than 100 GW of projects are at various stages of planning and could provide enough power to meet 10% of European electricity demand.
Europe is the world leader in offshore wind with 828 wind turbines and a cumulative capacity of 2,056 MW spread across 38 offshore wind farms in nine European countries. The UK and Denmark are the current leaders, with a 44% and 30% share respectively. In 2009, five countries built new offshore wind farms: UK (284 MW), Demark (230 MW), Sweden (30 MW), Germany (30 MW), Norway (2.3 MW).
During the Energy Council on 7 December, an intergovernmental agreement called the “North Seas Countries Offshore Grid Initiative” was signed by nine countries, agreeing to develop “a strategic working plan” on the future offshore supergrid.