EU wind market shrank 8% in 2013

The European wind market shrank by 8% last year and became more reliant on a handful of countries, even as wind – and renewables more broadly – continued to gain ground within the European energy mix.

Wind and PV collectively accounted for 63% of the EU’s new generation capacity last year, crushing other technologies like gas, which accounted for 22% of new capacity, coal (5.5%) and biomass (4%), according to new figures from the European Wind Energy Association.

While 7.5GW of new gas capacity was added in 2013, another 10GW of existing capacity was decommissioned, meaning that gas lost significant ground within Europe’s overall energy system.  

Continuing a trend of several years, installations of PV again topped wind in the EU, although the gap narrowed.

Some 11,010MW of PV capacity was added last year across the EU, compared to 10,917MW of wind, EWEA says.

By comparison, PV had an edge of nearly 5GW over wind in 2012.

2013 will likely prove the first year in which more PV was added globally than wind, some analysts have predicted, although the final figures are not yet in.

Around 15% of Europe's new wind capacity last year came from offshore, whose 1.6GW performance represented a record year, despite looming mid-term challenges for the sector.

While several individual countries notched up impressive gains in wind capacity last year, the 8% decline in the overall European market was due to “significant volatility” across various countries, EWEA says.

Just two countries – Germany and the UK – accounted for 45% of Europe’s wind installations last year, a level of concentration not seen since 2007, when Denmark, Germany and Spain dominated the market.

Wind installations last year plunged by 84% in Spain, by 65% in Italy, and by 24% in France.

Germany claimed a 27% share of Europe’s new wind capacity in 2013, followed by the UK (17%), Poland (8%), Sweden (7%) and Romania (6%).

Meanwhile, the share of emerging markets in central and eastern European actually fell slightly within the overall EU market, EWEA says.

“EU wind power installations for 2013 show the negative impact of the market, regulatory and political uncertainty that has been sweeping across Europe,” says Justin Wilkes, deputy chief executive of EWEA.

“Destabilised legislative frameworks for wind energy have undermined investments,” Wilkes adds.

Two weeks ago the European Commission formally proposed a 27% EU renewables target for 2030 – with no specific targets for individual member states – to the dismay of EWEA and other renewables associations, which argue that level is nowhere near ambitious enough.

By the end of 2013, wind accounted for 13% of Europe’s installed power-generation capacity, up from just 2% in 2000.

PV’s share grew from practically nothing to 9% during the same period, while coal’s share fell from 25% to 17%.