Investment in wind energy in Europe last year hit a record level of €27.5 billion, industry group WindEurope says.

Investment in wind energy in Europe last year hit a record level of €27.5 billion, industry group WindEurope says.

In its latest insight into the region’s wind power sector, WindEurope, shows that a total of 12.5 GW of wind energy was connected to the grid in 2016, bringing total installed wind capacity in Europe to 153.7 GW. Wind accounted for 51 per cent of all new power installations in 2016, with Germany leading pack, accounting for close to half of all new wind installations.

France, the Netherlands, Finland, Ireland and Lithuania also had record years in terms of wind installations. The data shows that wind energy is “now a mainstream and essential part of Europe’s electricity supply,” said Giles Dickson, CEO of WindEurope.

According to WindEurope, investment in offshore wind farms grew by 39 per cent in 2016, however, onshore investments fell by 29 per cent. WindEurope has expressed concern over the lack of a clear and ambitious policy for wind energy and renewables in general, and notes that over half of EU member states invested nothing in wind energy last year.

“With all the talk about the transition to low-carbon, things should be looking good long-term for the wind industry in Europe. But they’re not,” said Dickson. “Only 7 out of 28 EU Member States have targets and policies in place for renewables beyond 2020. The transition from feed-in tariffs to auctions has been less smooth than we hoped.

“We still have dysfunctional electricity markets that are not fit for renewables. And we’re lacking long-term price signals to support investment.”

Wind energy covered over ten per cent of Europe’s electricity needs in 2016. Overall, renewable energy accounted for 86 per cent of all new power plant installations in 2016.

Dickson added: “We saw strong expansion in Germany in 2016 but growth remains uneven geographically. Policy is key, especially when we look at the longer term.

“The Member States also need to start defining in their National Energy and Climate Plans how they will deliver the transition at national level. The Clean Energy Package is the blueprint for this. The Council and the European Parliament need to start working seriously on the Commission’s proposals.”