Germany solidifies top ranking in EU wind power league

Germany installed 42% of the EU’s new wind power capacity in 2017, a year that saw the industry installing more supplies than any other form of energy across the European Union, according to fresh industry statistics published on Tuesday (13 February).

15.7 GW of new wind power capacity was installed in the EU during 2017, representing 55% of total new power capacity added last year in Europe, according to WindEurope, a trade association. This an increase of 20% over 2016.

Germany led the pack, with 6.6 GW new wind power capacity installed in 2017, or 42% of the EU total. The country also registered the highest annual increase of wind energy in its electricity demand – from 16% to 20% year-on-year.

Overall, the country remains on top of the European league, with the largest total installed wind power capacity, followed by Spain, the UK and France. Denmark, meanwhile, is the country with the largest share of wind in its power mix, reaching 44% of the country’s electricity demand.

More generally, renewable energies – mainly wind and solar – accounted for an overwhelming majority of new power in Europe, representing 85% of new electricity capacity installed in 2017.

Wind energy now accounts for 18% of EU’s total installed power generation capacity.

Meanwhile, power output from fuel oil and coal-fired power plants declined as electricity companies continued to decommission more capacity than they installed. Supplies of gas-fired power remained stable, with the amount of decommissioned capacity almost equalling newly-commissioned gas-fired generation capacity.

Investment slowing

Giles Dickson, the CEO of WindEurope, said the record 2017 performance was further evidence that wind power is now mainstream and “delivers bang for your buck”.

However, he also warned the record year also reflected the fact that a “lot of the new projects were ‘pushed through the gates’ to benefit from feed-in-tariffs and other old support schemes while they still applied.”

Indeed, there are signs that investments in wind power are slowing down, reaching €22.3bn in 2017, a 19% decrease compared to 2016.

“Despite the strong figures, the medium and longer term outlook for wind is uncertain.  The transition to auctions has been messier than we hoped. And crucially we lack clarity from many governments on their ambitions for renewables post-2020,” Dickson said in a statement, calling on EU policymakers to adopt a 35% target for renewables to be reached by 2030.

“A 35% target is not just affordable, it’s economically desirable,” Dickson said. “The wind industry has shown it can deliver. Now we need policy-makers to deliver as well.”