Wind installations drop in Europe as nations slash subsidies

Source: Special to E&E • Posted: Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Wind power installations fell 8 percent last year in the European Union as new activity dropped considerably in Spain, Italy and France, the European Wind Energy Association said yesterday.

But the technology increased its presence as a percentage of total installations, as a majority of new power capacity coming online was renewable

There was 10,917 megawatts of wind power capacity installed in the European Union last year, with drops of 84 percent, 65 percent and 24 percent in Spain, Italy and France, respectively.

“Wind power installations for 2013 show the negative impact of the market, regulatory and political uncertainty that has been sweeping across Europe,” said Justin Wilkes, deputy chief executive of the wind lobby group EWEA. “Destabilized legislative frameworks for wind energy have undermined investments and put green growth, jobs and energy security at risk.”

Spain cut subsidies for clean energy installations last July and plans to regularly review subsidy payments in a bid to only pay what it considers a reasonable return to operators of renewable energy.

Wind accounted for 31 percent of total power capacity installations in the European Union in 2013, up 5 percentage points compared with the year before. Renewable power installations took the lion’s share of new capacity, with 72 percent, or 25 gigawatts of a total of 35 new GW coming online in 2013. That was also a 5-point increase from 2012.

There is currently 116.7 GW of installed wind energy capacity in the European Union, with 110 GW onshore and the rest offshore. Offshore wind saw record growth last year, with 1.6 GW installed. EWEA predicted the offshore market will maintain that pace this year and next.

Germany was the biggest market for wind last year with about 3,000 MW of new capacity, followed by the United Kingdom with about 1,900 MW; Poland with 900 MW; and Sweden, Romania and Denmark with about 700 MW each.

Since 2000, 91 percent of new installed power capacity in the European Union has been either renewables or natural gas.