Europe’s Offshore Wind Market Levels Off

The European offshore wind industry saw new capacity installations decline by 84MW (5.3%) in 2014.
Published: Mon 23 Feb 2015

After a record wind increase of 1,567MW during 2013, Europe’s new offshore wind capacity has appeared to stabilize during 2014, with 408 new turbines adding 1,483MW becoming fully grid connected.

The total installed offshore wind capacity for Europe now stands at 8,045MW in 74 wind farms in 11 European countries.

“It is not surprising that we see a levelling-off of installations in 2014 following a record year in 2013,” commented Justin Wilkes, deputy chief executive officer of the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA). “The industry has seen exponential growth in the early part of this decade and this is a natural stabilizing of that progress.”

Wilkes adds that offshore wind will have a monumental part to play in the EU's energy security drive as part of the European Energy Union but it is political determination that will help Europe unlock its offshore wind potential. “The technology and financing are there but we need policymakers to come forward with stable long-term plans to push the growth of this industry and to avoid stop-go and inconsistent policy frameworks for offshore wind.”

UK and Germany lead new installations

According to EWEA’s trends and statistics review for 2014, the UK accounted for over half of all new installations and Germany for over one-third, with Belgium making up the rest.

With these additions, at the end of 2014 the UK had a total installed offshore wind capacity of 4,494MW – more than the rest of the world combined. Denmark was still in second place with 1,271MW, while Germany’s offshore wind capacity increased to 1,049MW and Belgium’s to 712MW.

Other findings for 2014 are:

• The average offshore wind turbine size was 3.7MW, slightly less than in 2013 due to the increased proportion of installation of the Siemens 3.6MW wind turbines

• The average size of a grid-connected offshore wind farm in 2014 was 368MW, 24% less than the previous year. This is the result of the 2013 completion of the 630MW London Array

• The average water depth of wind farms completed, or partially completed, in 2014 was 22.4m and the average distance to shore was 32.9km.

• Siemens continues to account for the majority of the market (86%), with other turbine manufacturers who had turbines grid connected during 2014 including Vestas, Areva and Senvion. Samsung connected its demonstration 7MW turbine to the grid in Fife, UK.

2015 offshore wind outlook

The market outlook for 2015 remains stable in terms of capacity to be brought online. There are 12 projects representing 2.9GW under construction in the pipeline for the next 12 to 18 months. Thus predictions of reaching 10GW by 2015 are well within industry expectations.

Among these are the largest wind farms to be fully completed, RWE's 576MW Gwynt y Mor in North Wales followed by the 400MW Global Tech 1 in the German North Sea, which are both due in Q1.

Notably 2015 will also see Germany overtake the UK in annual grid connected capacity. [Engerati-Germany’s Offshore Wind On The Increase and Germany Increases Its Offshore Wind Capacity]

Looking further ahead to 2016, a slump in the market is expected, featuring a low level of wind turbines being connected. However, activity is expected to pick up substantially as of 2017 as projects under financial deals closed in 2014 – of which four were “billion euro” projects – begin to hit the water.

Further reading

EWEA: The European offshore wind industry – key trends and statistics 2014

Engerati: Belgium Awards ABB US$35 Million Contract To Strengthen Wind Integration