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Published January 29, 2014 11:14 AM

Record year for offshore wind energy hides slowdown in new projects

A record number of offshore wind turbines were connected to the grid in Europe last year — and nearly 50% of the projects were installed in UK waters, according to a new report released today.

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However, the pipeline of new wind energy projects is running worryingly low, according to the new industry briefing.

In 2013, 418 offshore turbines came online making a record 1,567 Megawatts of new capacity - one-third more than the capacity installed in 2012. The UK accounted for 47% of all new capacity in Europe with 733MW.

This makes a new total of 6,562 MW of offshore wind power - enough to provide 0.7% of the EU's electricity. Of the total 1,567 MW installed in European waters, 72% were located in the North Sea, 22% in the Baltic Sea and the remaining 6% in the Atlantic Ocean.

However, the share of total capacity installed in the UK was significantly less than in 2012 (73%). The second largest amount of installations in 2013 were in Denmark (350 MW or 22%), followed by Germany (240 MW, 15%) and Belgium (192 MW, 12%).

And a closer look at what happened reveals a slow-down during the year as two-thirds of the new capacity came online in the first six months.

With 11 projects now under construction, down from 14 this time last year, industry chiefs says market and regulatory stability is critical to bringing forward the 22,000 MW of consented projects across Europe.

The European Offshore Statistics report was published today by the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA).

The organization’s deputy CEO Justin Wilkes said the industry now needs an ambitious decision on a 2030 renewable energy target by Government leaders in March.

He added: "The unclear political support for offshore wind energy - especially in key offshore wind markets like the UK and Germany - has led to delays to planned projects and fewer new projects being launched. This means installations are likely to plateau until 2015, followed by a decline as from 2016.

"An ambitious decision on a 2030 renewable energy target by the Heads of State in March would be the right signal to send to the offshore wind sector that Europe will develop its massive offshore wind potential for green growth, jobs, industrialization, technological leadership and CO2 reductions."

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Offshore wind turbine farm image via Shutterstock.

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