Europe’s Wind Power Industry Is Blowing Up Offshore

February 6, 2018, 12:46 PM UTC

Europe’s offshore wind industry is booming, with a 25% boost in capacity during 2017.

Industry body WindEurope released statistics Tuesday that showed 3.1 gigawatts of capacity came online last year, thanks to the installation of 13 new offshore wind farms. One of those, Hywind Scotland, is the world’s first floating offshore wind farm.

Most of the installations took place in the U.K. and Germany, with Belgium, Finland and France some way behind those two. According to WindEurope, 4,149 turbines operating across 11 countries now provide a total 15.78 gigawatts of capacity.

WindEurope said it expected Europe’s total offshore wind capacity to reach 25 gigawatts by 2020.

The highest monthly “capacity factor” for 2017—representing the actual power generated by wind farms, as a percentage of their maximum capacity—was Germany’s 67.9% in February. German wind farms famously produced so much electricity on one stormy October weekend that producers were forced to pay consumers to take the extra electricity off the network.

The new turbines are bigger than their predecessors too, with the 2017 average for one turbine being 5.9 megawatts, or 23% up on the turbines being installed in 2016.

“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,” WindEurope CEO Giles Dickson said in a statement.

Read: Google Just Bought Enough Wind Power to Offset 100% of Its Energy Use

The EU’s current 2030 target is to have renewables providing at least 27% of energy consumption, but Dickson said the growth in capacity showed that 35% would be “easily achievable.”

However, the organization did also warn that the long-term outlook for offshore wind was unclear as most EU countries still haven’t decided how much capacity they want to install by 2030.

As for which equipment manufacturers are reaping the benefits of the wind boom, WindEurope said Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy accounted for 51.3% of the new capacity. MHI Vestas Offshore Wind came in second with 24.7%, followed by Senvion and Adwen.

Newer turbines are bigger than their predecessors, with the 2017 average for one turbine being 5.9 megawatts, or 23% up on the turbines being installed in 2016.