Home Business Offshore wind installations in Europe hit a record level last year

Offshore wind installations in Europe hit a record level last year

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This image shows Scroby Sands offshore wind farm, in waters off the coast of Norfolk, England.

Geography Photos | Universal Images Group | Getty Images

European countries installed a record amount of offshore wind capacity in 2019, according to new figures from industry body WindEurope.

The amount — just over 3.6 gigawatts (GW) — marked a leap higher than 2018, when more than 2.6 GW was installed. It takes overall offshore capacity for European nations to more than 22 GW.

In an announcement Thursday, WindEurope said that the U.K. was responsible for almost half of the new capacity in 2019, followed by Germany, Denmark and Belgium.

Fresh investment decisions on four offshore wind farms were made in 2019. This, WindEurope said, amounted to another 1.4 GW of capacity and 6 billion euros ($6.6 billion) of investment.

As technology develops, the size of turbines and offshore facilities is increasing. WindEurope noted that the average size of an offshore wind farm in 2019 was 600 megawatts (MW), which is twice the average size in 2010.

Output from newer individual turbines is bigger too. The average size in 2019 was 7.8 MW, 1 megawatt bigger than in 2018.

And turbines are set to get bigger still. In December 2019, Dutch utility Eneco started to purchase power produced by the prototype of GE Renewable Energy’s Haliade-X 12 MW wind turbine.

The scale of that turbine is considerable: it has a capacity of 12 MW, a height of 260 meters and a blade length of 107 meters. GE Renewable Energy has described it as the “world’s most powerful offshore wind turbine.”

The European installation figures come after the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) said that North, Central and South America, together with the Caribbean, installed over 13.4 GW of wind power capacity in 2019, a 12% rise compared to installations in 2018.

Looking at these figures in more detail, the GWEC said 2019 saw the U.S. install “its third largest volume of onshore wind”. The “first large-scale installations” in the offshore market are expected to take place in 2022-23, it added. It’s expected that over 10 GW of offshore capacity will be built in the US by the year 2026.



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