European wind power records in 2023

In one of the latest editions of Windletter, specifically No. 72, Sergio Fernández Munguía has discussed the issue of wind energy in the year 2023 after the report published by the wind energy employers’ association in Europe, where the data and statistics of the sector are collected in 2023 and some future forecasts are made. After reading the Wind Europe report, here I bring you the most notable things in my opinion, I hope you like it.

1.Image.-The growth of wind energy capacity in Europe, 2014-23. (Source: WindEurope – Wind energy in Europe – 2023).

In the last decade, the installed capacity in the wind sector in Europe has doubled, going from 134 GW to 272 GW. The truth is that the growth is very solid, since not even the slowdown of the pandemic has reduced the installation of more wind turbines.

If we focus on the year 2023, the total energy generated by the wind plants in the European Union was 466 TWh, which made it possible to cover 19% of the electricity demand (16.8% of onshore wind energy and 2.2% of offshore wind).

Wind energy reached a record daily production on December 22 (2,932 GWh), corresponding to an average production of 122 GW or approximately 55% of the fleet that produced at its maximum power throughout the day.

The day with the lowest electricity production generated was August 23, 2023 when the total generation was 433 GWh, covering 6% of the demand in the EU that day.

If you observe, between the minimum and maximum wind production there is a ratio of almost 7x (2,932 GWh (12/22/23) and 433 GWh (08/23/23)).

2.Image.- Annual capacity of onshore and offshore wind energy installed in Europe. (Source: WindEurope – Wind energy in Europe – 2023).

New wind installations in Europe amounted to 18.3 GW in 2023, with 14.5 GW of wind capacity installed onshore and 3.8 GW offshore. Of which, 16.2 GW are new installations in the EU-27. Outside the EU, the 2.1 GW installed were attributable to the United Kingdom (1.4 GW), Turkey (397 MW), Serbia (114 MW), North Macedonia (36 MW), Norway (35 MW) and Switzerland (14 MW).

For the EU to reach its target of 42.5% renewable energy by 2030, wind energy installations must average 33 GW per year between 2024 and 2030. This is based on an installed wind energy capacity target of 425 GW.

Wind farm installations in Germany were the highest in Europe last year, representing 25% of installed onshore capacity. The total installation figure amounted to 3.9 GW, including 329 MW of offshore wind.

3.Image.- New onshore and offshore wind installations in Europe in 2023. (Source: WindEurope – Wind energy in Europe – 2023).

Offshore wind turbines accounted for 21% of installations in Europe, with 3.8 GW of grid-connected wind farm capacity.

Almost half of the new connected offshore wind capacity was in the Netherlands (1.9 GW), with the remainder coming from the UK (833 MW), France (360 MW), Denmark (344 MW), Germany ( 329 MW) and Norway (35 MW).

Germany installed the largest wind energy capacity in 2023 with 3.9 GW, of which 91% was onshore (3.6 GW) and the rest offshore. The most notable thing is that 1.1 GW came from repowered wind farms.

Germany also connected 257 MW of offshore wind capacity in the Baltic Sea, all from the Arcadis Ost 1 wind farm. With an additional 72 MW coming from capacity modifications to existing turbines, installed offshore wind capacity grew by 329 MW during year.

The Netherlands set a new national RECORD for installations in a single year with 2.4 GW, 78% of which were offshore.

Offshore wind installations in the Netherlands accounted for half of all installed offshore wind capacity in Europe in 2023.

Sweden installed almost 2 GW, all of it onshore. It is very notable that in the last 3 years it has installed 6.5 GW, especially knowing that the country’s inhabitants are only close to 10.5 M.

France installed 1.8 GW, of which 1.4 GW onshore. This is the second highest amount in a single year after the record 2.1 GW installed in 2022.

The UK installed 1.4 GW of wind power capacity, 60% offshore (833 MW). Onshore 553 MW were installed, almost exclusively in Scotland.

 Spain installed a total of 764 MW, all of them land-based except for a 2 MW floating wind turbine, which is part of a DemoSATH pilot project by Saitec (here are 2 analyzes I carried out where I describe in detail how the floating platform was assembled. : 106) Lego in real life: DemoSATH Project and 107) Megastructures in the Sea: DemoSATH Project. Part II). I would like to emphasize that Spain has installed less than half as much as in 2022, which amounted to a total of 1.7 GW.

As a review, it is worth highlighting that 14 countries did not install any wind energy capacity in 2023, 8 of them were EU Member States.
Offshore wind

In total, 3.8 GW of offshore capacity was connected to the European network. In 2023, there were 11 wind farms in six countries connecting turbines to the grid, as well as a demonstration project in Spain, specifically in the Bay of Biscay with a 2 MW wind turbine.

4.Image.- New offshore wind farms in Europe in 2023. (Source: WindEurope – Wind energy in Europe – 2023).

The Netherlands connected 1.9 GW of offshore wind turbines at the Hollandse Kust Noord wind farm (760 MW) as well as the rest of the turbines that had to be connected at Hollandse Kust Zuid 1-4 (1.5 GW). The latter is now the largest operating offshore wind farm in the world.
Decommissioning and repowered capacity

Wind farms have a limited operational life. For older wind farms, this is usually between 15 and 25 years. Although newer wind farms, built with more modern turbines, will likely have a longer lifespan.

When the wind farm reaches the end of its operational life (assuming its useful life is not extended by replacing components or blades), the turbines will be shut down, dismantled and removed. This is known as decommissioning.

It often makes sense to repower the wind farm, as this means replacing all turbines, cables and grid connections with modern, more powerful and efficient turbines and accessories.

The original capacity that is replaced is known as repowering capacity. It is a topic that has always interested me, since, in Euskadi, the last wind farm (5 x 2MW of Siemens Gamesa turbines = 10 MW) built was Punta Lucero in the Port of Bilbao in 2006. Therefore, The useful life cannot seem very far away.

5.Image.- Capacity decommissioned and repowered in 2023. (Source: WindEurope – Wind energy in Europe – 2023).

In 2023, 736 MW of wind energy will be decommissioned in 9 countries. Decommissioning took place in Germany (534 MW), France (50 MW), Denmark (49 MW), Italy (37 MW), Austria (19 MW). , Belgium (17 MW), United Kingdom (16 MW), Finland (12 MW) and Sweden (2 MW).

Of the 18.3 GW of wind power capacity added in Europe in 2023, 1.5 GW came from repowering projects. Most of the repowering took place in Germany (1.1 GW), with some also carried out in the Netherlands, Austria, Italy, France, Czechia and Belgium.

Therefore, the dismantling of parks and/or repowering are terms that little by little will enter society’s vocabulary.

Older projects tend to be located in the best wind locations and asset owners must be very familiar with site conditions, with many years of operational data. Much of the infrastructure is already in place (roads, substations) and there is generally less opposition from local communities (although it is still important to involve communities given the likely increase in wind turbine size).

Ager Prieto Elorduy