92 metres high, 8.4 MW, and 300 million GBP cost for 11 of the beasts. Yes, the world’s largest wind turbines ff Scotland’s coast, being build by Swedish firm Vattenfall does mark a change in fortunes for the Wind Energy sector in Europe.
After a poor 2017 in terms of greenfield wind energy projects, the sector is once again projected to draw big bucks over the next two years in European countries. Brussels-based WindEurope, an association of stakeholders in the wind energy business across 50 countries, has published a report which has underlined a strong reversal in investment trends in the business. The globally reputed agency known for its efforts to promote wind energy in the continent also runs a dedicated research wing providing business intelligence to its over 600 members.
According to the report titled ‘Financing and Investment Trends’, a total of 51.2 billion euros was invested in wind energy projects in the continent in 2017 out of which the share for Greenfield projects had stood at 22.3 billion euro. Even as the total investment committed during the course of the previous year marked a 9 percent improvement over 2016 figure, the big disappointment has been the sharp 19 percent decline in fresh fund infusion for new projects – 22.3 billion euro in 2017 as against 28 billion euro in the previous year. The agency report maintains that the larger chunk of fresh investment in wind energy – about 29 billion euro – were routed to project refinancing and the acquisition of projects. The major icing on the cake, however, which is reflective of a serious declining trend in the wind energy costs in the continent is that even at 19 percent slump in the fresh investments, the output is going to be higher. The new projects which drew fresh investment commitments in 2017 are slated to deliver 11.5 GW capacity in the medium to long run as against 10.3 GW which higher investments in 2016 would add to the capacity base.
The agency has now projected a sharp increase in Greenfield wind power projects for a spell of next two years. In 2018, it is estimated to rise by 4 percent at 23.2 billion euro and it is slated to mount up further to 26 billion euros in 2019. “The outlook for 2018 is strong with investment volumes expected to increase. The auction system for wind energy is settling down, and projects that have won auctions are now reaching Final Investment Decision. The investment outlook up to 2020 is strong but there remains a lack of visibility on new projects after 2020, ” said WindEurope Chief Policy Office Pierre Tardieu.
With European countries chasing the target of meeting 20 percent of their demand from renewable sources by 2020, the continent has made rapid strides since the beginning of this decade in wind power capacity addition. At the end of 2017, the total installed wind energy capacity had stood at a staggering 169 GW which is slated to rise to 230 GW by 2020. Going by the numbers, it is a much larger play than solar which had a cumulative output capacity of around 100 GW at the end of 2016.