Offshore wind installations on the rise in Europe

27 Jul 2011

Offshore wind energy installations in Europe showed positive growth for the first half of 2011, with 101 new offshore wind turbines being connected to the grid in the UK, Germany and Norway during that time, according to the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA), which says financing activity in the sector is picking up.

The statistics, which were released by the EWEA today, show that offshore wind installations were up 4.5pc for the first six months in 2011, compared with the same period in 2010.

A total capacity of 348MW was connected to the grid in the UK, Germany and Norway during that time.

In Europe, 11 offshore wind farms worth around €8.5bn and with a total capacity of 2,844MW are now under construction.

As of June 2011, the EWEA said 1,247 offshore wind turbines in Europe are fully connected to the grid, with a total capacity of 3,294MW in 49 wind farms spread between nine European countries.

Siemens takes the lead

Three manufacturers had offshore wind turbines grid connected during the first semester of 2011, with Siemens dominating with an 84pc market share, followed by BARD at 16pc and then SWAY.

Speaking today, the EWEA’s CEO Christian Kjaer said that while the European offshore wind power industry is experiencing positive trends, the sector is “not home and dry yet”, citing the ongoing need of investments from institutional investors.

“The sector is coming out of the financial crisis but is still facing a potential worsening of the general economic crisis. The number of banks providing capital for offshore wind farm investments is steadily growing, although there is a continued need for attracting an increasing number of large institutional investors to offshore wind farms – presently the largest construction projects going on in Europe,” said Kjaer.

The EWEA pointed to Germany and the UK, where several wind farms will reach financial close in 2011.

It said financial institutions will this year provide more than €3bn to the sector.

Equity financing, including divestment of stakes in existing projects to initiate new ones, is also highlighting new approaches to financing among developers and power companies following the financial crisis, said the EWEA.

The number of banks that are open to taking on offshore wind risk is steadily growing, it said, with more than 20 institutions now having obtained credit committee approval to take on offshore wind risk.

The EWEA said the new KfW programme for offshore wind, which will provide up to €5bn to 10 projects in Germany, is a “major step towards ensuring the development of non-recourse financing in that country”.

Danish export credit agency EKF and the European Investment Bank continue to support transactions, said the EWEA, which also welcomed the proposed Green Investment Bank in the UK.

Offshore wind – Ireland

In Ireland, offshore wind developments in the pipeline include the Dublin Array offshore wind farm being developed by Saorgus Energy, which has already secured 364MW of its total 520MW capacity to the Irish grid.

The wind farm is aiming to start construction of the 145-turbine wind farm in 2014 off the Kish and Bray Banks in the Irish Sea and to start producing wind energy by 2015.

Oriel Windfarm is another wind-energy development that is proposing to locate 22km off the Dundalk, Co Louth, coastline. The wind farm is awaiting a grid connection offer for its future 55-turbine development that is proposing to produce 330MW of renewable energy. The wind farm is hoping to come online in 2013.

Meanwhile, the Codling Wind Park off Greystones, which is to be located off the east coast of Ireland between Greystones and Wicklow, has also lodged an application for an extension to its already consented 1100MW 220-turbine wind farm development.

The 100MW 20-turbine Skerd Rocks wind farm being developed by Fuinneamh Sceirde Teoranta that is to be located off the west coast of Ireland is awaiting a grid connection offer.

Photo: Lillgrund offshore wind farm in the Öresund between Malmö and Copenhagen, which uses 48 Siemens SWT-2.3-93 wind turbine generators with an output of 2.3MW each

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic