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Europe achieves new record for offshore wind installations
Europe installed a record 3.6 GW of new offshore wind capacity last year, according to data released by industry group WindEurope

The record installation of 3.623 GW of new offshore wind capacity in 2019 brings the European total to 22.072 GW. The UK and Germany led the way, installing 1.8 GW and 1.1 GW respectively last year.

Installed capacity of offshore wind power in 2019 (in megawatts; Source: WindEurope)

Little surprise then that the high wind speeds delivered by Storm Ciara over February 8 to 9 saw a new record for UK wind generation, with the clean energy source meeting 56% of the country’s electricity at 2 a.m. on Saturday, February 8.

Reaching for the sky          

As capacity grows, turbines and farms are getting ever larger. According to WindEurope, the average size of turbine installed last year was 7.8 MW, including a 12 MW giant constructed off the Dutch port of Rotterdam, a modern-day Colossus.

Since 2010, the average wind farm size has ballooned from 300 MW to over 600 MW.

Installation of the world's most powerful wind turbine - GE Renewable Energy's Haliade-X - in Rotterdam port.

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As the projects grow, costs continue to tumble. According to WindEurope, auctions last year in the UK, France and Netherlands delivered prices in the range of €40 to €50 per MWh, which it says is “cheaper than building new gas, coal or nuclear.”

Sustaining the momentum, investment decisions were taken in 2019 on four new offshore wind farms at a total cost of €6 billion.

However, according to WindEurope, the European Commission says Europe needs – at a minimum – a more than ten-fold increase in capacity to between 230 and 450 GW by 2050 to meet its climate change targets. 

Offshore wind power in Europe: Share of capacity by operator in percent (Source: WindEurope)

As a result, the offshore wind industry needs to ramp up its annual installation rate way beyond even last year’s record.

To hit the higher end of the target range, the offshore wind industry needs to ramp up its installation rate to 7 GW a year by 2030 and 18 GW by 2050, a step change even from last year’s record.

To achieve this, WindEurope CEO Giles Dickson said the EU’s new Offshore Wind Strategy should clearly map out how to mobilise the investments needed for 450 GW, in particular addressing the need for on and offshore grid connections.

Companies like RWE are taking a lead, having installed 12% of Europe’s offshore wind by the end of 2019, the second largest share by company.

Photo credits: @ WindEurope

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