Wind Overtakes Coal Power in Europe as Turbines Head Offshore

  • Coal surpassed as second-biggest potential source of capacity
  • Intermittency of wind leaves coal producing more power

Wind farm developers installed more power than any other form of energy last year in Europe, helping turbines to overtake coal in terms of capacity, industry figures show.

European wind power grew 8 percent, to 153.7 gigawatts, comprising 16.7 percent of installed capacity and overtaking coal as the continent’s second-biggest potential source of energy, according to figures published Thursday by the WindEurope trade group. Gas-fired generation retained the largest share of installed capacity.

With countries seeking to curb greenhouse gas emissions that causes climate change by replacing fossil fuel plants with new forms of renewable energy, investment in wind grew to a record 27.5 billion euros ($29.3 billion) in 2016, WindEurope’s annual European Statistics report showed.

“Wind and coal are on two ends of the spectrum,” said Oliver Joy, a spokesman for WindEurope, in an e-mail. “Wind is steadily adding new capacity while coal is decommissioning far more than any technology in Europe.”

The group underscored that wind, which only produces power intermittently, hasn’t yet overtaken coal share in total power generation.

European wind investment increased 5 percent in 2016 from a year earlier driven by the offshore segment that attracted 18.2 billion euros, the report said. That offset a 29 percent investment decline in the onshore market.

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