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Europe: European wind energy data proves positive

Denmark, the UK, Austria and Germany have posted 2014 records for wind's contribution to their electricity production.

Denmark's energy ministry released figures showing that 39.1% of its electricity in 2014 came from wind. This figure has more than doubled in ten years; in 2004 wind accounted for 18.8% of the country's electricity production.

An energy ministry spokesperson said last year's data represents a world record and beats other countries "by a distance".

Denmark's most productive month was January 2014, when wind energy produced 61.7% of its electricity. July was the least productive month, with only 23% of its electricity provided by wind.

Wind's increased share came in a year of overall lower energy consumption in Denmark in the first nine months of 2014.

Figures released by the Danish Energy Agency in January 2015 show actual energy consumption fell 5.8% in the period between January and October last year, compared with the same time in 2013. This reduction has been put down to warmer weather and an increase in net imports of electricity.

UK and Germany

Meanwhile, the annual electricity output of the UK's wind energy sector grew by 15% last year. Overall, wind power provided 9.3% of UK electricity supply in 2014, compared with 7.8% in 2013.

UK wind power generated 28.1TWh of electricity in 2014, up from 24.5TWh in 2013, according to an independent analysis of National Grid figures commissioned by wind trade body RenewableUK.

December in the UK was a record-breaking month, with 14% of the UK's electricity produced by wind, beating the record of 13% set a year earlier.

The same month in Germany was also one for the record books. Turbines in the country produced 8.9TWh in December, more than any month previously. The figures were released by IWR, a German renewable energy research institute.

IWR believes the record could be broken again in 2015 as Germany brings online a number of offshore projects, including Vattenfall's 288MW DanTysk and RWE's 295MW Nordsee Ost.

Austria

Austria has doubled its installed wind capacity over the past three years, adding 1,015MW from 365 turbines between 2012 and 2014, according to the Austrian wind energy association IG Windkraft.

In total, Austria has 1,016 turbines with 2,095MW. The capacity can generate around 4.5TWh per year, roughly equivalent to 7.2% of the country's electricity consumption.

Underlining the significance of the sector, EUR15.3 billion was invested in wind energy over the period 2012-2014, more than in the automobile or food sectors.

Last year, 144 turbines totalling 411MW were installed in Austria, compared with 308MW in 2013 and 296MW in 2012. In 2015, about 390MW of new capacity is expected to be commissioned, mainly in Lower Austria, the association predicted.

However, beyond that, the future outlook is less rosy. The increasing cost of balancing power serving the electricity system and lower wholesale prices mean fewer projects will get the green light from Austria's green energy administration.

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