New figures show EU now has 105.6GW of wind power capacity, but EWEA warns full effects of Eurozone crisis on new projects have yet to be felt
By Jessica Shankleman 08 Feb 2013
The UK has taken bronze position in the European wind energy rankings, after last year installing 16 per cent of all new capacity across the continent.
New figures from the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) published yesterday, reveal the UK now has 8.4GW of wind power capacity installed, although it still lags far behind Germany in first place with 31.3GW of capacity and Spain in second place with 22.8GW.
The UK last year installed 1.9GW of new capacity, leapfrogging ahead of France and Italy from its fifth place ranking in 2011 to third place in 2012. Only Germany installed more new capacity last year with 2.4GW of capacity added.
In total, the EU wind energy sector installed 11.6GW of new capacity in 2012, worth between €12.8bn and €17.2bn of investment, and accounting for more than a quarter of total new energy capacity across the continent last year.
Total European wind power capacity now stands at 105.6GW, up 12 per cent on last year's figures.
However, the EWEA warned that overall the EU is lagging behind the aims set by 27 EU Member States in their National Renewable Energy Action Plans (NREAP).
Although 15 member states now have more than 1GW of wind power capacity installed, 18 countries are not currently on track to meet their NREAP targets, including Slovakia, Greece, Czech Republic, Hungary, France and Portugal.
The UK should have 8.6GW of new capacity by 2012 under its plans, meaning it remains just behind schedule to meet the 2020 target.
Maf Smith, RenewableUK deputy chief executive, said the figures reflected the growing importance of the British wind industry to the economy, but called for greater certainty over the future of financial support mechanisms for the industry.
"The government is calling for the UK to more than quadruple the amount of wind installed between now and 2020," he said. "The industry can achieve 31GW onshore and offshore by the end of the decade, but only with clear cross-party political support.
"We can attract billions of pounds worth of investment to the UK and create tens of thousands of jobs, but only if the signals from Westminster are right. The proof of this will be in the Energy Bill, which is due to become law by the end of the year. So the decisions taken by government over next few months are absolutely crucial for the UK's wind industry."
Despite the recent wind power boom, the EWEA also warned that the 2012 figures do not reflect the "significantly negative impact" of economic, regulatory, and political uncertainty in Europe since 2011. The turbines installed during 2012 were mostly permitted, financed, and ordered prior to the Eurozone crisis and concerns remain that the rate of installation could slow in the coming years.
"The 2012 figures reflect orders made before the wave of political uncertainty that has swept across Europe since 2011, which is having a hugely negative impact on the wind energy sector," said Christian Kjaer, chief executive of EWEA.
"We expect this instability to be far more apparent in 2013 and 2014 installation levels."
In related news, Siemens today confirmed that it has signed a €700m deal to supply 80 wind turbines to a major new German offshore wind project by 2015.
The SWT-3.6-120 machines will be installed at the 288MW Butendiek wind power plant in Germany. Siemens Financial Services has a 22.5 per cent equity stake in the project, alongside equal stakes by Marguerite Fund, Industriens Pension and PKA.
"By 2020 we estimate there will be a worldwide installed wind energy capacity of 500GW," said Felix Ferlemann, chief executive of Siemens Wind Power division. "Offshore is by far the fastest growing market segment."