EU wind power now 7 percent, but industry challenged in 2013

The European Union wind energy sector installed 11.6 gigawatts (GW) of capacity in 2012—enough additional power for the continent to now meet 7 percent of its electricity needs–according to the 2012 annual statistics released this week by the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA).

The megawatts added in 2012 bring the E.U.’s total wind power capacity to 105.6 GW. The 7 percent penetration level achieved is a notable increase from 6.3 percent at the end of 2011.

While the installation total for the year beats 2011’s 9.4 GW, “The 2012 figures reflect orders made before the wave of political uncertainty that has swept across Europe since 2011, which is having a hugely negative impact on the wind energy sector,” said Christian Kjaer, CEO of EWEA. “We expect this instability to be far more apparent in 2013 and 2014 installation levels.”

Wind energy represented 26 percent of all new EU power capacity installed last year, and investment of between EUR 12.8 billion and EUR 17.2 billion.

Overall, the EU is almost 2,000 MW short of its National Renewable Energy Action Plan forecasts. Eighteen member states are falling behind, including Slovakia, Greece, Czech Republic, Hungary, France and Portugal, said EWEA, which released its numbers in conjunction with last week’s EWEA 2013 event in Vienna.

Renewable energy accounted for 69 percent of all new power capacity in 2012 while, in a continuing trend, fuel oil, coal and nuclear capacity saw negative growth due to decommissioning.

Last year, wind energy installations were led by Germany (2.4 GW, 21 percent of the total of new E.U. wind power capacity), the UK (1.9 GW, 16 percent), Italy (1.3 GW, 11 percent), Romania (0.9 GW, 8 percent) and Poland (0.9 GW, 8 percent). In terms of total installed capacity, Germany is also the leader with 31.3 GW (30 percent), followed by Spain (22.8 GW, 22 percent), the UK (8.4 GW, 8 percent), Italy (8.1 GW, 8 percent) and France (7.2 GW, 7 percent).

EWEA’s full set of E.U. wind power 2012 market numbers is available online.

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By Carl Levesque,