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Market Status: Offshore - Europe - Major growth surge will continue through 2010

Europe's offshore wind market grew by 54% in 2009 compared with 2008, according to the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA).

Counting commissioned wind turbines in a couple of unfinished wind farms, EWEA reports that 577MW of offshore grid-connected capacity was operational by the end of December. In 2010 it expects to see a further ten wind farms operational, which will add another 1GW, representing a 75% growth rate, year-on-year.

In total, around 4GW is under construction, over half of it in the UK. Another 16GW is fully consented, with just over 50% of this planned in Germany. In total, more than 100GW of projects are at various stages of development and could provide enough power to meet 10% of Europe's electricity needs, says EWEA. By 2020 it expects to see between 40GW and 55GW of offshore wind farms feeding electricity into Europe's grid.

Manufacturer Siemens dominated the wind turbine supply, scooping 70% of the offshore market in 2009. Its closest rival, Vestas, managed nearly 20%. But EWEA reports newcomers REpower, Areva Multibrid, Bard, WinWind and Nordex entering the market. The leading developer in Europe last year was Dong Energy, installing 313MW, a share of 54% of all new capacity.

Turnover of the offshore wind industry is expected to double this year to some EUR3 billion, from around EUR1.5 billion in 2009. But the financial crisis continues to constrain the growth of the sector. "Independent project developers, in particular, are still struggling," says Christian Kjaer, EWEA chief executive. He notes that the EUR255 million being injected into offshore wind under the EU's economic recovery plan and the European Investment Bank's (EIB) increased involvement show that Europe's leaders understand the importance of the sector.

Some of the EIB and economic recovery money is going towards financing greater electricity interconnection between countries and the first elements of an offshore grid capable of absorbing increased generation from wind farms far out to sea. In September 2009 the European Commission and 12 national governments agreed to work together to resolve the technical, financial, regulatory and environmental issues in creating a European offshore grid.

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