Offshore wind energy capacity increased in the first half year of 2011, with a 4.5% rise in installations compared to the corresponding period of 2010. According to the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA), 101 new offshore wind turbines, with a total capacity of 348 Megawatt (MW), were connected to the power grids in the UK, Germany and Norway during the first six months of 2011.
Eleven offshore wind farms worth some Eur8.5 billion and with a total capacity of 2,844 MW are currently under construction in European waters. The size of the installed offshore wind turbines averaged 3.4 MW – up from an average of 2.9 MW during the first half of 2010.
“While I see several positive trends for the European offshore wind power industry, we are not home and dry yet. The sector is coming out of the financial crisis but is still facing a potential worsening of the general economic crisis. The number of banks providing capital for offshore wind farm investments is steadily growing, although there is a continued need for attracting an increasing number of large institutional investors to offshore wind farms – presently the largest construction projects going on in Europe,” says Christian Kjaer, chief executive of EWEA.
Several wind farms in Germany and the UK will reach financial close in 2011 and financial institutions will this year provide a record amount of financing to the sector of over Eur3 billion. Between three and five transactions are expected to close during the course of the year. Equity financing, including divestment of stakes in existing projects to initiate new ones, highlights new approaches to financing among developers and power companies following the financial crisis.
At the end of June 2011, there were 1,247 offshore wind turbines fully grid connected with a total capacity of 3,294 MW in 49 wind farms spread between nine European countries.