A total of 105.6GW of wind energy capacity has now been installed in the EU, with Ireland installing 125MW in 2012, according to figures published by the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) today. The EWEA warns, however, that the effects of the Eurozone crisis and political uncertainty across Europe will be experienced by the wind-energy sector in 2013 and possibly well into 2014.
To date, Ireland has installed 1.7GW of wind energy capacity.
In 2012, 12.4GW of wind power was installed across Europe, of which 11.6GW was in the EU. Of this later figure, almost 10.4GW represented onshore wind capacity, while almost 1.2GW represented offshore installations.
Based on the EWEA analysis, investment in EU wind farms was between €12.8bn and €17.2bn. Onshore wind farms attracted €9.4bn to €12.5bn, while offshore wind farms accounted for €3.4bn to €4.7bn.
Despite this, the EWEA said that wind power installations for 2012 do not show the negative impact of market, regulatory and political uncertainty that has been felt across Europe since the start of 2011.
The organisation said the turbines that were installed last year were generally permitted, financed and ordered prior to the crisis, which has led to a destabilisation of legislative frameworks for wind energy.
It said the impact of the stress that is being felt in many markets across Europe throughout the wind industry’s value chain should lead to a reduced level of installations in 2013 and possibly continuing well into 2014.
"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 EWEA CEO Christian Kjaer.
"We expect this instability to be far more apparent in 2013 and 2014 installation levels," he said.
Wind accounted for 26pc of total power capacity installations in 2012. According to the EWEA figures, wind is now meeting 7pc of Europe’s electricity demand – up from 6.3pc at the end of 2011.
Last year, wind energy installations were led by Germany (2.4 GW), followed by the UK (1.9 GW), Italy (1.3GW), Romania (0.9GW) and Poland (0.9 GW).
Germany is also the EU country with the largest installed capacity followed by Spain, the UK and Italy.
Ten other EU countries have more than 1GW of installed wind capacity: Ireland, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Greece, The Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania and Sweden.
The EWEA said the wind capacity installed at the end of 2012 will, in a normal wind year, produce 230TWh of electricity – representing 7pc of the EU’s electricity demand.
Based on this methodology, the EWEA said Denmark is the country with the highest penetration of wind power in electricity consumption (27.1pc), followed by Portugal, (16.8pc), Spain (16.3pc), Ireland (12.7pc) and Germany (10.8pc).
Wind turbine image via Shutterstock