European Offshore Wind Capacity Rose 33% in 2012, Led by Siemens

Offshore wind power installations in Europe rose by a third in 2012 and may increase by another 20 percent this year as developers build bigger farms in deeper waters, the European Wind Energy Association said.

Siemens AG had the biggest share of the market, with the Munich-based conglomerate taking 74 percent of installations, according to a report on the EWEA website. Suzlon Energy Ltd.’s Repower unit was second with 19 percent, while Bard Holding GmbH had the rest of the market.

The 1,166 megawatts of installations is a 33-percent increase on 2011’s 874 megawatts. The Brussels-based lobby group said European Union nations lag goals in the National Renewable Energy Action Plans they submitted to the EU. Total installations across Europe reached 4,995 megawatts, less than the goal of 5,829 megawatts through 2012 set by eight nations.

“Solid installation figures do not alter the fact that the wind industry is being hit by political and regulatory instability, the economic crisis, the higher cost of capital and austerity,” Justin Wilkes, political director of the industry group, said in the statement.

A further 14 projects that are being built will boost offshore wind capacity by 3,300 megawatts when completed, EWEA said. The average size of an offshore farm rose 36 percent to 271 megawatts, it said.

Bigger, Deeper

“The trend towards larger projects is expected to continue over the coming years,” EWEA said. “Both average water depth and distance to shore are expected to increase.”

EWEA forecasts grid connections to total 1,400 megawatts this year, and 1,900 megawatts in 2014. Grid connection delays in Germany, political in-fighting over electricity market reform in the U.K. and environmental constraints in Belgium have held projects back.

The report showed Belgium, Germany and Ireland are all undershooting their planned targets by more than 20 percent, with France so far failing to install any turbines. The U.K., Sweden and Denmark are all ahead of plans.

The U.K. led installations in 2012, with 234 of the 293 new turbines, totaling 854 megawatts, EWEA said. Belgium, Germany and Denmark were the other three nations to install turbines at sea, connecting 185 megawatts, 80 megawatts and 47 megawatts respectively, according to EWEA.

European Wind

A total of 10 European nations now have 1,662 wind turbines connected in 55 farms at sea, totaling 4,995 megawatts, according to the report. The U.K. has 59 percent of that, followed by Denmark, with 18 percent, Belgium with 8 percent, Germany with 6 percent and the Netherlands with 5 percent. Sweden, Finland, Ireland, Norway and Portugal are the other five countries with offshore wind power in Europe.

Vestas Wind Systems A/S, the second-biggest historical offshore wind turbine provider, had no new installations at sea in 2012, after putting up just one experimental device in 2011, according to the EWEA. Siemens now has 58 percent of installed offshore wind capacity in Europe, Vestas has 28 percent and Repower has 8 percent.

Aarhus, Denmark-based Vestas is developing an 8-megawatt device called the V164 that it says it will only make to order. The manufacturer has said it’s seeking a partner to help develop the turbine, and in August said it’s in talks for a “strategic cooperation” with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd, without specifying the nature of the discussions.

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