2017 was a banner year for European offshore wind after installing a record 3.1 gigawatts of new capacity, twice the capacity installed in 2016, according to a new report from WindEurope, an industry association.
European offshore wind capacity grew 25 percent in just one year to total 15.8 gigawatts, which WindEurope CEO Giles Dickson called "spectacular."
"Offshore wind is now a mainstream part of the power system. And the costs have fallen rapidly," Dickson continued. "Investing in offshore wind today costs no more than in conventional power generation. It just shows Europe's ready to embrace a much higher renewables target for 2030. 35 percent is easily achievable. Not least now that floating offshore wind farms are also coming on line."
Fourteen offshore wind projects were completed in 2017, including the world's first floating offshore wind farm, the Hywind Scotland. There are now 92 offshore wind farms in 11 European countries. Another 11 offshore projects are underway and will add another 2.9 gigawatts once complete.
Even wind turbines are getting more powerful. The average size of installed offshore wind turbines was 5.9 megawatts, a 23 percent increase from the year prior.
By 2020, WindEurope expects Europe's cumulative offshore wind capacity to grow to a stunning 25 gigawatts.
"The message to Governments as they prepare their plans is 'go for it on offshore wind': it's perfectly affordable and getting cheaper still; it's a stable form of power with increasing capacity factors; and it's 'made in Europe' and supports jobs, industry, and exports," Dickson said.
However, as Climate Action noted from the report, only a small number of countries can claim the lion's share of Europe's offshore wind power boom last year. The United Kingdom installed roughly 1.7 gigawatts—or more than half of the additions. Germany followed with 1.3 gigawatts.
Belgium added 165 megawatts and Finland another 60 megawatts. Encouragingly, France developed its first 2 megawatts of offshore wind farm energy, reflecting French President Emmanuel Macron's plans to ditch fossil fuels and increase renewables.