Multi-billion windfall: Europe invested €27bn in new wind farms in 2018

  • Apr 18, 2019
  • Business Green

Europe invested a total of €27bn in new wind farms in 2018, allowing it finance a record amount of new wind energy capacity, according to European trade body WindEurope.

The figure invested in 2018 is broadly similar to previous years, but due to the ongoing reduction in development costs - particularly for offshore wind farms - the €27bn sum will finance a record high 16.7GW of new wind capacity in Europe, the trade association explained.

While scaling 1MW of new onshore wind capacity cost €2m on average in 2015, the capital expenditure required has now dropped sharply to €1.4m, WindEurope's annual Financing and Investment Trends report today estimates.

In addition, 1MW of offshore wind capacity now requires €2.5m investment, down from €4.5m in 2015.

Onshore wind made up most of last year's investments in future new capacity at 12.5GW, while offshore wind accounted for 4.2GW, the report found.

WindEurope said that in total 190 wind farms across 22 different countries reached final investment decision last year. Northern and Western Europe still accounted for most new investments, with UK the biggest investor - mostly thanks to new offshore wind projects - and Sweden in second place.

Investments in southern and central Europe made up only four per cent of the total, the report found, although WindEurope said it expected investment in Spain and Poland to pick up in 2019.

Meanwhile, in addition to investment in new wind farms, the report also revealed a surge in wind farm acquisitions. The group said €24.1bn was invested in acquisitions across Europe, representing "much more than in previous years". The deals included both purchases of projects under development and acquisitions of of companies involved in wind energy.

WindEurope said more investors and equity partners, particularly from financial services, were being attracted towards wind energy thanks to the increasing maturity and competitiveness of the sector, which in turn was helping to boost investor confidence and spur earlier-stage investment.

Wind farms are also increasingly securing competitive funding and lower financing costs as lenders become more comfortable with the risks associated with project development, it added.

But WindEurope CEO Giles Dickson said that while wind energy made up around 60 per cent of total European investment in power capacity last year, the sector still needed "significant amounts" of further investment for the EU to meet its 32 per cent renewables target for 2030.

"The money is out there, but there aren't enough bankable projects," he said. "One problem is permitting: the processes are slower and more complex than they were. Another problem is the lack of visibility today on governments' plans for renewables. The National Energy Plans they have to write this year are key to resolving this. If they're clear and ambitious this'll provide investment signals which will make projects happen."

The update follows a separate report yesterday from the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) looking at the supply side of the wind industry, which found more than 20,600 wind turbines produced by 37 manufacturers were installed worldwide in 2018.

Vestas installed one in every five of the new turbines last year, making it the world's largest turbine supplier, followed by Goldwind and Siemens Gamesa. Meanwhile, eight out of the top 15 wind turbine manufacturers were based in China as the economic powerhouse continued to extend its dominance of the global renewables market.

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