EU adds 1.57GW offshore in 2013

New offshore wind installations in Europe set a fresh record last year with 1.57GW of capacity added – an increase of 34% over 2012 – but growth is set to come to a halt, warns the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA).

EWEA says about 3GW will be added in total over the next two years, but in 2016 and beyond the pipeline of projects will be squeezed, particularly due to policy uncertainties in the key UK and German markets.

The association’s statistics for 2013 show that 418 new offshore wind turbines at 12 wind farms were fully connected last year.  In addition, 104 are awaiting grid connection.

However, most of the additional capacity, or some 1.05GW, came online in the first half of the year, indicating a lot of catching up took place to connect turbines erected in 2012.

Some 3GW of capacity is currently under construction, indicating that installations in 2014 and 2015 should be similar to this year’s level, says EWEA.

But Iván Pineda, EWEA’s acting head of policy analysis, tells Recharge: “We have installed a record amount of new offshore capacity. This, however, should not mask the difficulties in the sector.

“Installations over 2014 and 2015 will not show much growth compared to 2013. And, although we have a pipeline of permitted projects of over 22 GW, financing deals are mainly being struck on existing wind farms (re-financing) rather than allowing new projects to start construction.

“Looking ahead, we fear a slow-down in 2016, reflecting the uncertainty that has plagued the UK and Germany over the past months,” adds Pineda.

“The sector needs clarity if it is to move forward. Unfortunately, the unambitious package published on a 2030 climate and energy framework by the Commission, with a renewables target of just 27%, will not be enough to push the offshore wind sector.

“EU governments must beef-up this insipid document and set an ambitious target that will drive the industry forward,” he says.

As in 2012, Siemens was the biggest installer of turbines, with 1.08GW or 69% of the market last year. Germany’s Bard followed with 240MW and Vestas was third with 123MW. Senvion, the renamed REpower, saw 111MW added.

Denmark’s Dong Energy was the number one developer. It accounted for 48% of all installations in 2013, while Bard and the UK utility Centrica both had 15% shares.