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
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%.