Offshore wind capacity increases in Europe

By Isabella Kaminski

The European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) has published offshore wind energy statistics for the first half year of 2011, showing a 4.5% increase in installations of offshore capacity compared to the first half of 2010.

101 new offshore wind turbines, with a total capacity of 348 MW, were connected to the power grids in the UK, Germany and Norway during the first 6 months of 2011. In Europe, 11 offshore wind farms worth around €8.5 billion and with a total capacity of 2,844 MW are currently under construction in European waters.

The size of the installed offshore wind averaged 3.4 MW – up from an average of 2.9 MW during the first half of 2010.

As of 30 June, there were 1,247 offshore wind turbines fully connected to the grid with a total capacity of 3,294 MW in 49 wind farms spread between 9 European countries.

Christian Kjaer, CEO of the EWEA, says: "While I see several positive trends for the European offshore wind power industry, we are not home and dry yet. The sector is coming out of the financial crisis but is still facing a potential worsening of the general economic crisis. The number of banks providing capital for offshore wind farm investments is steadily growing, although there is a continued need for attracting an increasing number of large institutional investors to offshore wind farms – presently the largest construction projects going on in Europe.”

Several wind farms in Germany and the UK will reach financial close in 2011 and financial institutions will this year provide a record amount of financing to the sector – over €3b.

According to the EWEA, equity financing, including divestment of stakes in existing projects to initiate new ones, highlights new approaches to financing among developers and power companies following the financial crisis.