Wind turbines have been working in the European seas since 1991, when the main offshore wind turbines were first connected across the shore of Denmark in Vindeby. Outstanding progress has been made in this field since last 23 years . Up till 2016, 12,631 MW of offshore wind energy comprising of 3,589 turbines has given significant chunk of clean energy to several countries within European Union. These turbines are capable of delivering 27 TWh of energy which is enough to meet the energy demand of more than seven million customers. Off shore wind energy has been in serious consideration within Europe. Especially in February 2017, it was given the highest priority when it was decided among the European member states to increase the share of renewable energy in the European energy mix by 20 % .
Wind power in an inexhaustible source of energy supply which has practically zero toxic emissions and ensure improved ecological sustainability. It has proved to be a promising candidate as compared to its counterpart sources of conventional generation such as coal, natural gas or diesel driven power generation which has seen a decline after depleting fossil reserves and increasing environmental concerns (e.g. Paris Agreement). However, in context of Europe, its wide scale deployment has widely been restricted due to scarcity of land on shore and a possible visual contamination. Consequently, wind turbines have been famous for installation and operation off the shore. However, during last few years, there has been a decline. In 2016, the Europe experienced a net increase of 1.558 GW grid integrated off shore wind turbines which is actually 48% less than the addition made in 2015. Currently, the Europe has total installed capacity of 12.631 GW coming from 3,589 grid integrated wind turbines installed in 10 European Union countries. As per key trends and statistical research conducted by European off Shore Wind Industry, new projects for consented wind farms are underway which will inject 24.2 GW of power into European Grid . Moreover, total of 11 projects worth of €18.2bn has also reached to final investment decision (FID) which will add up to 4.948 GW. The cutting edge research conducted in wind energy and the influx of project investments is now appearing to be a major milestone towards achieving a long term goal of 24.6 GW installed capacity by 2020.
Keeping in view the decline in investment in 2016, it is anticipated that the investment and subsequent power production will rise in European grid up till 2019 only. When reaching 2019, there will be a decline in projects as the European Union member countries will complete their National Renewable Energy Action Plans (NREAPs) under the current Renewable Energy Directive which is valid up to 2020. However, some construction will still be going on even after 2020 to fulfill then already agreed commitments on projects.
As per the projected outlook for 2017, the number of off shore wind projects which will except to go through Final Investment Decision will bring in 2.8 GW of combined power capacity. These include Borssele I & II (700 MW) and Borssele 3 & 4 (700 MW), Global Tech II (553 MW), Kriegers Flak (600 MW), and the financial close of Deutsche Bucht (252 MW). The refinancing of Butendiek (288 MW) and the minority stake in London Array (630 MW) are also expected to have a final investment decision made in 2017.
1. Breton, S. P., & Moe, G. (2009). Status, plans and technologies for offshore wind turbines in Europe and North America. Renewable Energy, 34(3), 646-654.
2. European Off’ Shore Wind Industry, “The European offshore wind industry – key trends and statistics 2016”, 26 January 2017