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Record Growth for EU Offshore Wind in 2010

With 308 new offshore wind turbines installed in 2010 – a 51% increase in installed capacity on the previous year - offshore wind power experienced record growth in Europe, according to the latest analysis to emerge from the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA).

With 308 new offshore wind turbines installed in 2010 – a 51% increase in installed capacity on the previous year - offshore wind power experienced record growth in Europe, according to the latest analysis to emerge from the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA).

Its 'European offshore wind industry – key trends and statistics 2010' document reveals that - across nine installations and five countries – some 883 MW of new offshore capacity was developed in 2010, bringing Europe's offshore installed capacity to a total of 2964 MW.

Worth some €2.6 billion in 2010, there are more than 1100 offshore wind turbines currently operational in Europe, which in a normal wind year would produce 11.5 TWh of electricity, EWEA says.

More detailed figures reveal the UK to be the clear global leader with a total of 1341 MW, followed by Denmark with 854 MW. The Netherlands, Belgium and Sweden have 249 MW, 195 MW and 164 MW, respectively. Germany boasts 92 MW, Ireland 25 MW, Finland 26 MW and finally Norway, with 2.3 MW, brings up the rear.

Total installed offshore capacity by owner (Source: EWEA)

Turning to technology developments, EWEA says that during 2010, 29 new offshore turbine models were announced by 21 manufacturers, bringing the number of new turbine models developed over the last two years to 44, from 33 manufacturers.

Commenting, EWEA's chief executive, Christian Kjaer, observed: 'With over 50% market growth, 2010 sets a new record for European offshore wind energy.'

However, Kjaer also warned: 'Finance remains a big challenge but we are seeing improvements with more banks and other financing institutions ready to invest in large offshore wind projects.' EWEA argues that 2010 saw an improving financing environment with private banks, financial institutions like the European Investment Bank (EIB), utilities and pension funds backing the sector. They cite two major deals completed in 2010 – Thornton Bank C-Power and Trianel Wind Farm Borkum West - which highlight the brighter financial outlook with both coming to financial close.

Furthermore, EWEA forecasts continued strong growth over the coming year, with 1— 1.5 GW of new grid-connected capacity anticipated.

A total of 19 GW of offshore wind capacity is fully consented and 10 plants are currently under construction, a total of 3 GW, EWEA research shows. These figures do not include the more than 32 GW of offshore capacity planned, but not yet fully consented, in the UK.

Put in context, the figures on offshore development compare with the total of 9259 MW of wind power capacity (worth some €12.7 billion) installed across the EU during 2010, a 10% drop compared to the previous year. Nonetheless, wind power accounted for 16.7% of total 2010 power capacity installations and more renewable power capacity was installed during 2010 than any other year, an increase of 31% compared to 2009. However, the figures also reveal that for the first time since 2007 wind power did not install more than any other generating technology.

Overall, renewables accounted for 41% of new installations during 2010, with 22,645 MW from a total of 55,326 MW. The EU's total installed power capacity increased by close to 53 GW to 874,023 MW, with wind power increasing its share of installed capacity to 84,074 MW or 9.6%.

Germany remains the EU country with the largest installed capacity, followed by Spain, Italy, France and the UK. Meanwhile, increasing installations in emerging EU markets such as the offshore sector in northern Europe, and onshore in southeast Europe-have offset the fall in installations in the mature onshore markets of Germany, UK, and Spain.

These figures set the scene for the forthcoming EWEA Annual Event - formerly known as EWEC – which is due to take place on 14-17 March 2011 in Brussels, Belgium. With a comprehensive conference programme and exhibition, the 2011 event is expected to attract over 10,000 people from more than 60 countries. Over 400 exhibitors will be on site in the almost 13,000 m2 exhibition space.

Reflecting its growing significance, offshore wind is afforded a full track on the opening day as part of the conference programme. Among others, the 'Offshore wind energy: Challenges and opportunities' session will hear from the Energy Research Centre of the Netherlands (ECN) in a paper titled: 2030 Roadmap for offshore wind deployment in the North Sea. Meanwhile, Philipp Lyding of Germany's Fraunhofer IWES will present a paper on the Offshore Scientific Measurement and Evaluation Program (Offshore WMEP) which aims to optimise availability and therefore the profitability of offshore wind farms.

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