Wind in Europe — How Does It Blow?

Europe maintains a healthy market but is looking forward to fresh energy and climate ambitions to add certainty over what the post-2020 landscape will mean for new wind power.

Trade association WindEurope reports that wind power is providing over half of all new generating capacity being installed across the EU member states, with onshore providing the majority.

Some 4.8 GW of new onshore wind was installed in the first half of 2017, with the sector attracting €5.4 billion (US$6.4 billion) in new asset financing over the same period; comparable figures for the offshore sector saw 1.3 GW installed offshore, and €2.9 billion (US$3.4 billion) in financing. WindEurope predicts 2017 will be a record year for installations, with over 10 GW of new onshore wind (3.1 GW offshore) installed across the EU-28.

Of note, European wind energy broke a new daily generation record in October 2017 when it provided 24.6 percent of the EU’s electricity demand. At the end of June 2017, the EU had around 160 GW of wind power capacity (145.5 GW onshore) and eight states with over 5 GW installed.

Looking forward, current trends aren’t expected to alter in the near term and deployment looks set to remain strong through to 2020.

According to its ‘Central Scenario’ to 2020, WindEurope predicts some 37.7 GW new onshore capacity between 2017 and 2020. Averaging 12.6 GW new wind per year (9.4 GW onshore), the scenario predicts the EU-28 reaching over 200 GW of installed wind capacity, providing 16.5 percent of its electricity needs, by 2020. That same scenario posits a total of 8.9 GW new onshore wind capacity (3.3 GW offshore) installed through 2018.

Europe’s market is expected to remain a highly concentrated one, however. Just three countries — Germany, the U.K. and France — account for over 80 percent of the EU’s onshore installations, while deployment through 2018 is set to center around Germany (the market leader), the U.K., France, Spain and the Netherlands.

WindEurope Chief Policy Officer, Pierre Tardieu, stated in mid-2017: “We are on track for a good year in wind capacity installations but growth is driven by a handful of markets. At least 10 EU countries have yet to install a single MW so far this year. On onshore wind, the end of U.K. Renewable Obligation scheme will lead to even greater market concentration in Germany, Spain and France.”

Significant onshore tenders for 2018 include 3,200 MW from Germany (two of which will be technology-neutral) and 1,000 MW from France.

Spain is tipped to “experience radical growth after several years of inactivity,” and is pitched to install 4.1 GW of capacity in the coming years.

WindEurope expects that the U.K. industry will slow its onshore activity from 1.6 GW in 2016 to “almost none” in 2020, as result of a government-led shift towards offshore.

Acknowledging the EU energy objectives for 2020, WindEurope expects existing binding renewable energy targets to have a significant impact on wind installations going forward.

States already meeting goals may slow development, others will hasten to fulfil commitments. Others yet, already having met targets, will continue build out unabated, motivated by longer term climate and energy goals; Denmark and Sweden, for instance, are targeting 100 percent renewable energy by 2035 and 2040 respectively.

While current uncertainty surrounding post-2020 policy brings opaqueness to what deployment will look like further down the line, analyst consensus and trends both indicate that wind will maintain its dominant share in new generating capacity.

In this matter 2018 is an important year, with European institutions engaged in preparing new policy frameworks for the post-2020 period.

WindEurope chief executive Giles Dickson said: “The World Energy Outlook shows wind is on track to become Europe’s leading electricity source soon after 2030.”


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