Europe added 4.9 GW of new wind energy capacity in the first half of 2019, according to figures released by WindEurope.
Offshore wind is up while onshore wind is expected to pick up
Europe installed 2.9 GW of onshore wind in the first half of the year. This is down on the 3.3 GW installed in the same period last year. Installations were particularly poor in Germany, which had its worst first half of the year since 2000. The industry expects installations to pick up in the second half of the year, but German grid-connected volumes for 2019 as a whole will be lower than historical levels.
Of all European countries, France had the most onshore installations with 523 MW
Onshore wind installations are typically stronger in the second half of the year. This tendency is particularly pronounced in Nordic countries where installation activity is strongest in Summer months. Turbine orders and market activity suggest we will see significant volumes grid-connected in Sweden and Norway in the second semester. Large volumes are also expected in Spain on the back of the 4.1 GW auctioned in 2017 and 2018.
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1.9 GW of new offshore wind was installed in the first half of the year, up from the 1.1 GW added in the same period in 2018. The UK (931 MW), Denmark (374 MW), Belgium (370 MW) and Germany (252 MW) accounted for these installations. This includes Hornsea 1 in the UK which, when completed, will be the world’s largest wind farm with 1.2 GW.
“It was a good start to the year for offshore wind growth. But onshore wind installations were poor these past 6 months. Germany had the lowest first half of the year for new onshore wind installations since 2000. Permitting challenges remain the key bottleneck: 11 GW of onshore wind is stuck in the permitting process in Germany. And the transition to auctions, where so-called ‘community projects’ were allowed to bid in auctions without a permit back in 2017, has been messy. Many of these projects still need to be built,” said WindEurope Chief Policy Officer Pierre Tardieu.
Rate of installations too slow to reach EU 2030 goal
In the first half of 2019, Europe invested EUR 8.8bn in the construction of future wind farms, EUR 6.4bn in onshore wind and EUR 2.4bn in offshore wind. These investments will result in 5.9 GW being installed and grid-connected over the next two to three years. France and the Netherlands led investments.
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The EU has set a renewable energy target of 32 per cent for 2030 and is talking about a net-zero economy by 2050. The rate of installations that are seen so far this year will not get us there.
“European countries are finalising their National Energy & Climate Plans to 2030. They should be giving as much detail as possible on the policy measures that will allow a smooth and robust deployment of renewables. The auction schedule, what they will do to streamline permitting, how they will replace the wind farms that are coming to the end of their operational life. It is this kind of detail the industry needs to plan ahead and help deliver on Europe’s climate and energy ambitions cost-effectively,” said Pierre Tardieu.