European Wind Power Sector "Flagging," But Offshore Opportunities Abound

A report from the European Commission says that the onshore wind market in Europe is stalling, but that offshore wind installations will greatly increase capacity in coming years.

"The European Union market is wavering between the flagging onshore market and the logistics, technology and industrial preparations for the huge, offshore wind energy market with its rich pickings," the report [PDF] said. Offshore wind installations actually fell in 2011—when 788.1 MW were installed—compared to 2010, with 1139.9 MW installed. There are 18 offshore wind projects, however, that are currently in some phase of construction and should be completed within three years; they will add an amazing 5,285 MW of total capacity.

Production of electricity from wind power is also on the rise, with 172 terawatt-hours produced in 2011. That production accounted for about five percent of the EU's total power requirements. It's also a 15.5 percent increase over 2010, when wind turbines produced 149.1 terawatt-hours. 

Still, there is some cause for concern with regard at least to the onshore wind power market in Europe. According to the report:

"The recession has delayed the granting of a number of loans and led to project commissioning postponements. However the main reason is that heavy intervention is being used to control the development of most of the European Union’s major markets. In these times of crisis, many governments have reduced domestic market growth by slowing down authorization procedures and applying more binding administrative procedures."

In other words, it seems to have gotten too easy for companies to build wind farms. It hardly seems wise from an emissions perspective to try and throttle back on clean energy investment and development; in the U.S., where onshore wind power capacity is closing in on 50 GW but no offshore turbines yet spin, there has been a big push from the Obama Administration to streamline permitting processes. Of course, if the federal Production Tax Credit for wind power is allowed to expire, streamlined permitting won't do much good.

Image via EurObserv'er

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