Europe's offshore wind installations fall behind target

LONDON Sun Jan 27, 2013 6:20pm GMT

A boat powers past the Thanet Offshore Wind Farm off the Kent coast in southern England September 23, 2010. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

A boat powers past the Thanet Offshore Wind Farm off the Kent coast in southern England September 23, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Stefan Wermuth

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LONDON (Reuters) - The number of wind turbines built in European waters is lagging behind targets by nearly 1,000 megawatts (MW), the equivalent of around 330 turbines, an industry report showed on Sunday.

A total of 4,994 MW of offshore wind capacity is currently producing electricity in Europe's waters, but European Union (EU) countries had targeted an installation of 5,829 MW by the end of 2012, data published by the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) showed.

The EU wants to generate 20 percent of its energy consumption from renewable sources by 2020 in a bid to cut climate-harming emissions and its member states had to estimate yearly targets outlining how they would gradually contribute to the overall goal.

A comparison against the countries' 2012 targets for offshore wind showed France and Germany especially lagged heavily behind their goals.

France had not a single turbine installed at the end of last year despite a target of 667 MW, while Germany counted 280 MW against a goal of 792 MW.

France only launched its first tenders for offshore wind sites last year and in Germany questions over liability for delays in connecting offshore wind farms to the grid scared off investors.

Despite the slow progress, Europe installed a record breaking 1,166 MW in offshore wind capacity last year, beating its 2010 annual record of just below 900 MW.

"Solid installation figures do not alter the fact that the wind industry is being hit by political and regulatory instability, the economic crisis, the higher cost of capital and austerity," said Justin Wilkes, policy director at the EWEA.

Nevertheless, two deals involving refinancing of minority stakes helped push overall investment in offshore wind farms to a record high of 3.4-4.6 billion euros last year, compared with around 2.6-3.4 billion in 2011, the EWEA said, predicting an active year in 2013 as several transactions are outstanding.

Within the EU, Britain remained at the forefront of new and total installations, with around 73 percent of new turbines in 2012 and nearly 60 percent of total turbines placed in British waters.

British green energy association RenewableUK said the country's offshore wind farms produced enough power to supply 1.9 million homes.

The European offshore wind market also remained dominated by two manufacturers: Germany's Siemens and Denmark's Vestas, who together made 86 percent of Europe's installed offshore wind turbines.

The Danish manufacturer, whose share price is around 40 percent below last year's as it struggles to compete in an oversupplied market, failed to have any of its turbines installed in Europe last year, while Siemens' products were used in 860.4 MW of new capacity, EWEA data showed.

(Editing by Keiron Henderson)

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