Wind power generates 6% of EU electricity

By Adrian Bishop - 06 Feb 2012 13:54:0 GMT
Wind power generates 6% of EU electricity

Wind farm via Shutterstock

There is enough wind energy capacity in the European Union to generate more than six per cent of its electricity, a new report shows.

In 2011, 9,616 Megawatts of wind energy capacity was installed, bringing the total capacity to 93,957 Megawatts, the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) says. This equalled 21.4% of new power capacity, which is 5% above wind industry average annual growth over the previous five years.

EWEA policy director Justin Wilkes says, "Despite the economic crisis gripping Europe, the wind industry is still installing solid levels of new capacity.

"But to achieve the European Union's long-term targets we need strong growth again in future years.

"It is critical to send positive signals to investors by European governments maintaining stable policies to support renewables and for the European Union to commit to put in place a binding renewable energy target for 2030."

Offshore UK wind power installations grew, along with those in Germany, Sweden and Romania, but sales in France and Spain fell. Germany has the most wind power capacity in Europe, followed by France, Spain, Italy and the UK.

Last year was a record for renewable power installations in Europe, accounting for 71.3% of new installations, with generating capacity of 32,043 megawatts - up 37.7% on 2010. Oil and nuclear power installations dropped, with more capacity decommissioned than installed.

Europe's total installed power capacity rose by 35,468 megawatts to 895,878 megawatts. Wind power accounted for 10.5%, and renewable capacity to 31.1%, the EWEA report shows.

Investment in European Wind farms last year totalled €12.6 billion (£10.4 billion), on a par with the previous year. The onshore wind power sector accounted for €10.2 billion (£8.5 billion).

Germany added nearly 2,100 megawatts of new capacity and the UK accounted for the second biggest total with just under 1,300 megawatts with 752 MW coming from offshore sites. Spain had 1,050 megawatts, Italy (950 megawatts), France (830 megawatts), Sweden (763 megawatts) and Romania (520 megawatts).

Wind power accounted for 21.4% of new installations in the European Union in 2011, the third biggest share after solar power (46.7%) and gas (21.6%).

For the second year running, there was more coal capacity installed (2,147 megawatts) than decommissioned (840 megawatts).

"This hike in new coal power capacity highlights the urgent need for the EU to move to a 30% greenhouse gas reduction target for 2020, to introduce an Emissions Performance Standard, and to end decades of subsidies for new coal build and its fuel," says the EWEA report.

The trend towards green energy power generation has increased over the last decade or so.

In 2000, new renewable power installations totalled 3.5 gigawatts. Over the past 11 years they have grown ten-fold to reach 32 gigawatts in 2011.

The share of renewables in new energy capacity generation has also grown. In 2000, renewables generated 3.5 gigawatts or 20.7% of new power installations. In 2012, renewables accounted for 32 gigawatts in 2011, (71.3%) of new installations.

The the full report is available via the EWEA website.

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Topics: Wind Energy / Renewable Energy