European installations 'to fall 20% below 2020 forecast'

New European wind installations remained stable with previous years, but full-year additions are due to fall short of initial forecasts by about 20%, according to new analysis.

3.9GW of onshore wind capacity was installed in the first half of 2020, including Iberdrola's Cavar project in Spain
3.9GW of onshore wind capacity was installed in the first half of 2020, including Iberdrola's Cavar project in Spain

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WindEurope recorded 5.1GW of new wind farms being installed – 3.9GW onshore, 1.2GW offshore – in the first six months of 2020, which was roughly in line with recent half-year additions.

However, the industry body warned that with disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic, it now expects European installations to be about 20% below the 17.7GW it had initially forecast for the full year.

Meanwhile, wind’s share of total European electricity generation rose to 17% in the first half of the year, amid reduced power demand.

And as previously reported by BloombergNEF, financing of new offshore wind farms reached record levels in H1, while funding of new onshore projects fell by about a third.

WindEurope’s chief policy officer Pierre Tardieu said: “Europe implemented unprecedented measures to counter the health crisis which affected all areas of the economy. But wind remained resilient.

“Our turbines produced a record amount of electricity. National governments held competitive auctions, and our industry continued to build new wind farms applying strict health and safety protocols.”

The coronavirus pandemic caused major disruptions to the wind industry’s supply chains – especially on production and assembly of wind turbine components and imports of subcomponents, especially from Asia.

It also prompted temporary factory closures – especially in hard-hit countries like Italy and Spain – or reduction in worker numbers, social distancing and self-quarantine.

Meanwhile, reduced free movement of people and goods impacted operation and maintenance services and the commissioning of new projects, WindEurope explained.

However, developers still managed to install 5.1GW of new wind power capacity between January and June 2020 – 3.9GW onshore and 1.2GW offshore.

Onshore installations were slightly more than the average of the previous three years (3.7GW), while offshore additions were a little lower than the average of previous three years (1.5GW), WindEurope noted.

Germany installed the most onshore capacity (587MW), which was well below historic levels, but still ahead of France (494MW).

Meanwhile, the UK added the most offshore capacity (483MW), followed by Belgium (235MW), the Netherlands (224MW) and Germany (213MW).

However, WindEurope expects full-year installations to be about 20% lower than the 17.7GW it had initially forecast for 2020.

WindEurope noted that electricity demand in most European countries dropped by as much as 25% during the hardest-hit period – mid-March to mid-May.

Wind produced 241TWh in the first half of the year and met 17% of European demand, while there was lower supply from nuclear and gas.

The coronavirus pandemic has increased costs of debt in the short-term and strained debt liquidity in lower-rated states in eastern and southern Europe.

However, WindEurope recorded a record €14.3 billion being raised for financing new wind farms in the first six months of the year.

This includes a record €11 billion for offshore – including 1.4GW Hollandse Kust Zuid, 1.1GW Seagreen, and Saint Brieuc and Fecamp.

However, onshore wind financing fell by 32% to €3.3 billion in the first half of 2020.

Nevertheless, WindEurope concluded that the record overall funding levels demonstrates investors’ appetite in wind energy projects.

The industry body is also optimistic about the European Council’s €750 billion recovery plan.  The plan is in line with the objectives of the Green Deal, WindEurope noted, and 30% of spending is earmarked for green investments in electrification, renewables, storage , hydrogen production and other activities that will boost value chains and position Europe as a leader on green technologies.

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