Sunday, July 21, 2013

Chilly Offshore Wind Lurks For Europe

image via Ashley Dace/Wikimedia Commons

It was a rollicking first half to 2013, but there are warning signs in the distance for Europe’s offshore wind power party.

“(F)inancing of new projects has slowed down with only one project reaching financial close so far this year,” the European Wind Energy Association’s Justin Wilkes has warned. “This, together with a lack of orders being placed for offshore wind turbines, substructures and components, reflects the regulatory uncertainty in key offshore markets including Germany and the UK. It highlights the significant challenges faced by the offshore wind sector.”

Led by the completion of the 630-megawatt London Array, where more than 100 turbines and 400 MW of capacity were connected, 277 turbines totaling 1,045 MW were hooked into the grid between New Year’s Day and June 30 – almost precisely double the 522 MW connected in the same period in 2012.

That drove Europe’s offshore wind power total to 1,939 turbines with a combined capacity of 6,040 MW. (How’s that compare to the U.S., you ask? It’s 6,039.96 MW more than in the U.S., where the offshore wind portfolio consists of a 40-kilowatt demonstration project off Maine.)

There is a good deal of offshore wind in Europe’s immediate pipeline: Twenty-one offshore wind farms are under construction or in preparation, with a total capacity of 5,694 MW, the EWEA said.

But offshore wind operates in long time horizons, and looking further out the EWEA sounded a bit of a worried note as hard-pressed governments move cautiously. “To attract investment to the sector governments need to provide a stable regulatory framework and the EU should set a binding renewable target for 2030,” said Wilkes.

Wilkes’ comments echo the findings of the UK Green Alliance, which stated just a few weeks ago [PDF] that “increased investor confidence is necessary, which government can provide by reestablishing the cross party consensus on the UK’s low carbon direction.”

A few other tidbits from the midyear EWEA offshore report:
  • Turbine-size gains appear to have plateaued, at least for now. The EWEA said the average turbine size for those connected to the grid this year was about 3.8 MW, “similar to the previous year.”
  • Siemens was the dominant turbine manufacturer for the period, accounting for 244 turbines (88 percent of the total), with BARD (21 turbines) and REpower (12) far back.

The EWEA’s first-half 2013 report is available online as a PDF.

Syndicated from Earth Techling

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