Installation of wind power capacity broke records in 2017

Installation of wind power capacity broke records in 2017 © Tom Shockey
Installation of wind power capacity broke records in 2017 © Tom Shockey

Germany led the EU for installation of wind power capacity in 2017, according to new industry statistics published by WindEurope.

Installation of wind power capacity across the EU grew 20% in 2017, reaching record levels of 12,526 MW of new onshore capacity and 3,154 MW offshore capacity. This allowed wind power to account for an average of 11.6% of the EU’s electricity needs across the year.

The European Commission’s commitment to renewable wind energy is further demonstrated by the investment of €22.3bn to develop additional capacity in new wind farms. While this was down 19% on investments in 2016, renewable energy installations accounted for 85% of all new power installations, and installation of wind power capacity accounted for 55% of this total.

Which countries are leading in wind energy?

Germany remains a leading power in the transition towards wind energy, making up some 42% of the total European installation of wind power capacity in 2017. Further, the country had a record year for installations in 2016, increasing its capacity by 6.6 GW.

A number of other countries also achieved records in wind power installation in 2016, including:

  • The UK (4.3 GW);
  • France (1.5 GW);
  • Finland (577 MW);
  • Belgium (476 MW);
  • Ireland (426 MW); and
  • Croatia (147 MW).

Despite the record increases in capacity by these nations, Denmark has the largest share of wind energy satisfying electricity demand, with wind having reached 44% of total energy demand. Once again, Germany led in terms of annual increase, with a jump from 16% of electricity demand to around 20%.

What has WindEurope said about the report?

WindEurope’s CEO, Giles Dickson, emphasised that wind energy is increasingly becoming a mainstream renewables solution, as is shown by the figures in the report. He said: “[Wind is] cheap, increasingly stable, and industrial consumers are now turning to it as an energy source of choice. Governments have nothing to fear from being ambitious on wind energy and renewables more broadly.”

However, he cautioned that despite the fact that 2017 was a record year for wind power, the long term outlook for the sector is unclear because of a lack of clarity from European member states about their ambitions in the renewables sector.

Dickson added: “Countries need to start clarifying how much wind energy they want to deploy in the future. This will give visibility to the industry, allowing us to plan ahead and reduce costs. … Countries now have the chance to turn their National Energy & Climate Plans into investment brochures by committing to ambitious wind volumes.”

This will be increasingly necessary, he concluded, if Europe is to meet its ambitious climate change targets: “It’s now clear given the recent expansion of renewables and the rapidly falling costs that Europe can deliver on a 35% renewables target for 2030. A 35% target is not just affordable, it’s economically desirable. … The wind industry has shown it can deliver. Now we need policy-makers to deliver as well.”

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