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Europe splashes €27bn for record wind build-out

Plummeting prices for on- and offshore mean sum spent in 2018 will lead to 16.7GW in new projects, says WindEurope

Europe spent €26.7bn ($30.16bn) last year in new wind power capacity, up 20% from 2017, seeding finance for a record 16.7GW build-out in new wind capacity, according to a new report from advocacy body WindEurope.

Although the amount invested in new assets in 2018 was similar to 2015 and 2016, the volume of fresh capacity financed was significantly greater as a result of cost reductions and sector maturity, particular in offshore wind, the report 'Financing and investment trends' for the European wind industry in 2018, revealed.

“Wind energy got 60% of all the new investments in power generation capacity in Europe last year. And it was a record year for the amount of new wind energy capacity financed,” WindEurope CEO Giles Dickson said.

“Cost reduction means investors now get more megawatts per euro they invest. And lenders are more comfortable with the risks so the costs of finance are falling too.”

The sum spent will finance 12.5GW in onshore capacity and 4.2GW of offshore wind.

WindEurope expects 87GW of growth to 2022

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For land-based wind projects, prices for new capacity fell to €1.4m/MW last year from €2m/MW in 2015; for wind at sea, they tumbled to €2.5m/MW last year, from €4.5m/MW in 2015.

But, Dickson warned, Europe "needs to keep investing significant amounts in wind if it’s going to meet its 32% renewables target for 2030".

“The money is out there. But there aren’t enough bankable projects,” he said.

One problem is permitting, Dickson added, as processes are slower and more complex than they used to be. Another is the lack of visibility today on governments’ National Energy Plans for renewables.

“The National Energy Plans they have to write this year are key to resolving this. If they’re clear and ambitious this’ll provide investment signals which will make projects happen," said the WindEurope boss.

In total 190 wind farms across 22 different EU states reached final investment decision last year.

Northern and Western Europe still account for most new investments, with UK the biggest investor, mostly in offshore wind, and Sweden second.

Investments in Southern and Central and Eastern Europe were only 4% of the total, though Spain and Poland are expected to pick up this year.

A further €24.1bn was invested in the acquisition of wind farms including projects under development and of companies involved in wind energy, WindEurope said, much more than in previous years.

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