Europe’s offshore wind capacity increased 25% in 2017 with 3.1 GW of new capacity installed, according to statistics released this week by trade association WindEurope.
The UK and Germany were responsible for the majority of new installations, adding 1.7 GW and 1.3 GW respectively. A total of 13 new offshore wind farms were completed last year, including Hywind Scotland, the world’s first commercial-scale floating wind farm.
The average size of each new wind farm was 493 MW — a 34% increase on the year before. There are 11 additional wind farms currently under construction in European waters, which will contribute 2.9 GW to the continent’s energy mix upon their completion.
“Offshore wind is now a mainstream part of the power system, and the costs have fallen rapidly,” says Giles Dickson, CEO of WindEurope. “Investing in offshore wind today costs no more than in conventional power generation. It just shows Europe’s ready to embrace a much higher renewables target for 2030 — 35% is easily achievable.”
Europe is on track to have 25 GW of total offshore wind capacity by the end of the decade, though questions remain about the industry’s long-term future. Much depends on what offshore wind volumes government commit to in their National Energy and Climate Action Plans for 2030.
"The message to governments as they prepare their plans is ‘go for it on offshore wind,’” says Dickson. “It’s perfectly affordable and getting cheaper still; it’s a stable form of power with increasing capacity factors; and it’s ‘made in Europe’ and supports jobs, industry and exports.”