EWEA EU plea as offshore slows

A contraction in European offshore wind installation could continue for two years, EWEA warned as it revealed 781MW was grid-connected in the first half of 2014.

That is 25% less than in the opening six months of last year, when 1.05GW was connected, according to EWEA (the European Wind Energy Association), whose half-year report shows 4.9GW is under construction at 16 plants in European waters.

The UK was the clear leader in new grid-connected installations for the period, fully linking 532MW from 147 turbines, followed by Germany (108MW) and Belgium (141MW).

The cumulative capacity of installed European offshore wind stands at 7.34GW at 73 plants, adds the association, which claims future growth needs a strong signal of intent from European policymakers.

It says 224 turbines at 16 commercial wind farms and Samsung's 7MW offshore demonstration site were fully grid connected in the first six months.

Turbines made by Siemens, MHI-Vestas and Samsung were connected in the first half. Siemens had the largest share (633MW or 81%), followed by MHI-Vestas (141MW or 18%) and Samsung (7MW or 1%).

EWEA says 282 turbines have been installed but were not connected in the first six months, making 310 offshore machines awaiting grid connection. Once connected, they will add a further 1.2GW.

It says 233 foundations - 35 units fewer than the same period last year - were installed in 13 wind farms in the first two quarters.

Offshore wind remains “the fastest-growing power sector in Europe", says EWEA deputy chief executive Justin Wilkes.

"However, despite significant financing activity in the first half of the year, the contraction in installations we have witnessed in these first six months may well continue into 2015 and 2016.

"To ensure healthy growth in the latter part of the decade, and to ensure offshore wind energy plays its role in meeting the EU's competitiveness, security, renewable and climate objectives, the industry must be given longer-term visibility.

"An ambitious deal on the 2030 climate and energy package by the EU's heads of state in October would send the right signal, making their decision particularly important for the offshore wind sector."