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article imageUK accounted for 50 percent of Europe's new offshore wind in 2017

By Karen Graham     Feb 7, 2018 in Technology
The European offshore wind industry had an impressive year in 2017, increasing capacity by 25 percent to 3.1 gigawatts of new capacity installed. And the United Kingdom's installed 1.7 gigawatts accounted for more than 50 percent of the total.
According to new statistics released today by WindEurope, 2017 was a record year for offshore wind in Europe after total capacity reached 15.8 gigawatts - an impressive increase of 25 percent in just one year.
The record 3.148 MW of net additional installed capacity in 2017 corresponds to 560 new offshore wind turbines across 17 wind farms. Europe now has a total installed offshore wind capacity of 15,780 MW. This corresponds to 4,149 grid-connected wind turbines across 11 countries.
A total of 13 new wind farms were commissioned in 2017, but the locations in Europe are highly concentrated and involve only a few countries. Almost 98 percent of the wind farms are in the UK, Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Belgium.
The year 2017 also saw the Norwegian oil firm Statoil establishing the world’s first floating wind farm in Scotland. France also developed its first 2 megawatts (MW) offshore wind farm, Finland added 60MW with the first wind farm designed to withstand icy conditions, and Belgium added another 165MW.
“A 25 percent increase in one year is spectacular,” crowed Giles Dickson, WindEurope CEO. “Offshore wind is now a mainstream part of the power system. And the costs have fallen rapidly. Investing in offshore wind today costs no more than in conventional power generation. It just shows Europe’s ready to embrace a much higher renewables target for 2030. 35% is easily achievable. Not least now that floating offshore wind farms are also coming online.”
The new report also brought out the deployment of bigger turbines being used as prices continue to fall. Today, developers are going with 8MW-9MW turbines but by 2023 and 2024 that will have climbed to 13MW-15MW, the industry believes, reports The Guardian.
“And we’ll be beyond that in the next decade, there’s no reason to think we won’t,” said Dickson, adding that turbine manufacturers are not yet nearing physical limits on size.
One thing that is helping Great Britain is that offshore wind has been largely supported by government auctions of a guaranteed price of power to developers. Additionally, ministers have been urged by 10 groups to reveal plans for supporting small-scale renewables, such as solar panels on household and business rooftops.
Dickson adds: "The message to Governments as they prepare their plans is ‘go for it on offshore wind’: it’s perfectly affordable and getting cheaper still; it’s a stable form of power with increasing capacity factors; and it’s ‘made in Europe’ and supports jobs, industry and exports."
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