Interest in offshore wind energy is rapidly increasing along European coasts as a promising number of wind turbines went online in the first half of 2010, according to the European Wind Energy Association.
«Despite the financial crisis offshore wind continues to be a major growth industry,» said Justin Wilkes, director of policy at the association.
«The number of offshore wind turbines connected to the grid in the first half of this year is well over half the total amount installed all last year and I am confident we are heading for a record year,» he said.
Statistics released by the trade association shows that 118 new offshore wind turbines with a cumulative capacity of 333 megawatts were connected to the grid as of June 30. This exceeds the midway point of the entire 577 MW installed offshore last year.
Leading wind developer E.ON Climate and Renewables North America connected most of this capacity, activating 212.9 MW of turbines or 64 percent.
Danish energy company Denmark’s Dong Energy connected 68.4 MW or 21 percent, while Sweden’s Vattenfall A.B. connected 37.9 MW or 11 percent.
Six offshore wind farms went online in the first half of 2010, including the 60-MW Alpha Ventus offshore wind farm in Germany; the 172-MW Gunfleet Sands in Britain; the 180-MW Robin Rigg offshore wind farm between England and Scotland; and the 300-MW Thanet offshore wind farm in Britain.
Siemens A.G. supplied 55 percent of the offshore wind turbines connected to the grid. Vestas Wind Systems A/S, meanwhile, accounted for 36 percent while Repower Systems provided 9 percent.
However, financing remained a concern among offshore wind developers in the early half of 2010, even though projects developed by major utilities such as Vattenfall and Dong Energy were not jeopardized despite the global economic crisis due to continuous funding from large companies.
Independent developers are faring as well as the financial crisis has left them short of project financing.
Banks are reluctant to extend any significant underwriting loans, thus independent developers are having difficulties in funding large offshore wind developments.
«There is no doubt this burgeoning industry is being held back by a lack of finance. Europe is a world leader in offshore wind energy and continuing growth – and the availability of finance – is essential for European jobs and competitiveness as well as for reducing carbon emissions,» said Mr. Wilkes.