Europe’s Offshore Wind Held Strong In 2011

The results are in: The European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) has published its annual offshore wind statistics for 2011. And, although last year trailed slightly behind 2010 in terms of new megawatts installed, it was largely a stable year for the offshore wind industry, with 235 new offshore wind turbines (totaling 866 MW) connected to the grid. Together, the new offshore wind capacity is worth about $3.1 billion.

According to EWEA, 87 percent of all newly installed and grid connected offshore wind power in 2011 was constructed in British waters. Two-thirds of the U.K.’s new offshore wind capacity can be accounted for in the Ormonde and Greater Gabbard offshore wind plants, which were partially completed and commissioned in 2011. That will change this year; Ireland, Scotland and Denmark all have some large offshore wind farms on tap for 2012, but the biggest player this year will be Germany, which accounts for 45 percent of consented offshore wind capacity in the EU.

ewea wind report

image via Vattenfall

Other trends include an overall increase in the average size of offshore wind farms, and an increase in the water depth. The average offshore wind farm was almost 200 MW—a nearly 29 percent increase over the previous year; and the average water depth in 2011 reached 22.8 meters, substantially more than last year. Interestingly, 2011 also saw the installation of three “floating experimental concepts”—including one grid-connected floating offshore wind farm.

Lauren Craig is a writer and consultant living in Seattle, WA. She holds an M.S. in International Development from Tulane University, and is co-founder of Sustainable Systems Integrators, LLC., an employee-owned solar energy design and installation firm in New Orleans, LA. She is also certified in PV design and installation by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP).