Huge increase in offshore wind power forecast

One-third of wind European capacity to come from non-terrestrial installations by 2020, says EWEA

Europe will witness to a huge expansion in the amount of wind energy produced offshore if new targets for increasing generation capacity recently agreed by industry body the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) prove realistic. The targets for total capacity in 2010 and 2020 are 50% higher than EWEA's previous objectives, which themselves had already been revised upwards more than once (ENDS Daily 4 September).

A striking feature of the figures is the targeted rise in offshore wind capacity. This currently represents a very small proportion of western Europe's total wind power generation capacity of 9.5 gigawatts (GW). By 2010, EWEA says, just over 8% of the targeted total capacity of 60GW should be sited offshore. By 2020, offshore installations should be contributing one-third of total 150GW capacity.

Vicky Pollard of EWEA's Brussels office told ENDS Daily today that the huge increases in capacity would come about mainly because of the less complicated planning restrictions for offshore plants. This means that larger numbers of more powerful turbines can be installed. High grid connection costs for offshore plants also favour the installation of larger plants in order to reap economies of scale, she said.

Onshore turbines currently average just under one megawatt (MW) in output while 2MW turbines are already in operation off Denmark and bigger models of up to 5MW are in the pipeline (ENDS Daily 17 June 1999). North-western Europe, with its high winds and shallow seas, would see the bulk of the offshore capacity increases, Ms Pollard said. Though the EWEA targets were "aspirational," she added, they were feasible, and previous ones had been exceeded.

Last year, Denmark announced a target to achieve 4GW offshore wind capacity by 2030 (ENDS Daily 4 May 1999), while the Netherlands has set its own figure of 1.25GW by 2020 (ENDS Daily 11 February).

Follow Up:
EWEA, tel: +32 2 546 1940, and press release.

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