LONDON: The European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) has released a new report detailing the development of Europe’s off-shore wind farms in 2014 and the trends for the next two years.
The cumulative capacity of wind power in Europe is set to increase up to 10.9 gigawatts (GW) by 2016, according to EWEA. There are currently 12 offshore projects due to be completed this year, which will raise installed capacity by 2.9 GW.
Among all European countries, the UK leads the market as it accounts for 55.9% of the overall installed offshore wind capacity (4,494.4 MW), and owns 1,301 wind turbines – the highest number in Europe.
Image: Share of annual offshore wind capacity installation per country. Courtesy of "The European offshore wind industry - key trends and statistics 2014", European Wind Energy Association
But the report points out that “2015 will see Germany overtake the UK in annual grid connected capacity”, proving wind farms are developing quickly in the rest of Europe too.
Trends reported by EWEA confirm that the North Sea will remain the main location for new offshore projects. In fact, the North Sea currently hosts 84.8% of the wind farms under construction, followed by the Baltic Sea (10%) and the Atlantic Ocean (5.1%).
Image: The Climate Group infographic
2014 was a record year in financing offshore wind through non-recourse debt. This is a secure kind of loan for borrowers, as they don’t have a personal liability for the loan because the debt is secured by the property itself. The report states that “the industry raised €3.14 billion (US$3.56 billion) of non-recourse debt in 2014 – the highest ever level reached in the industry.”
This record is particularly relevant, as it “indicates that financial markets are willing to support well-structured projects”, says EWEA. The report also stresses that out of the nine financial deals for new projects that were signed last year, four were billion-euro projects.
Ben Ferrari, Director of Corporate Partnerships, The Climate Group commented: “This data indicates that the wind power sector is gaining traction within the wider energy market. This will further spur interest from European investors and businesses. If we look at the role played last year by partnerships and equity funding for renewables, it seems clear that utilities and institutional investors will deepen their involvement in wind energy over the next few years."
Image: Major equity investors in 2014. Courtesy of "The European offshore wind industry - key trends and statistics 2014", European Wind Energy Association
Last year also saw a growth in investment coming from Japan, as banks, trading houses and semi-public institutions took advantage of the opportunities opened by the European offshore wind industry.