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Wind Top New Power Capacity Source in Europe

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In 2015 12,800 MW of new wind power capacity was installed in the EU, an increase of 6.3% over 2014, and more than any other form of power generation, according to recent new figures from the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA). Wind power accounted for over 44% of total power capacity installations in the EU last year.

There is now 142 GW of installed wind power capacity in the EU, notes EWEA: 131 GW onshore and 11 GW offshore. Wind energy has overtaken hydro as the third largest source of power generation in the EU with a 15.6% share of total power capacity. Since 2000,. wind has accounted for one third of all new power installations since 2000. Conventional power sources such as fuel oil and coal continue to decommission more capacity than they install. Gas installations also saw a high rate of capacity decommissioning in 2015.

According to the EWEA figures, published in its Wind in Power 2015 Eruopean Statistics report, which came out in February, Germany remains the EU country with the largest installed capacity (45 GW), followed by Spain (23 GW), the UK (14 GW) and France (10 GW). 47% of all new installations in 2015 took place in Germany. Poland, France and the UK followed with 1.3 GW, 1 GW and 970 MW respectively.

€26.4 billion was invested in Europe in 2015 to finance wind energy development. This was 40% more than the total investment in 2014. The total wind power capacity installed at the end of 2015 could produce 315 TWh and cover 11.4% of the EU electricity consumption in a normal wind year.

Below we present some of the key statistics from the EWEA report.

ewea 1

ewea 2

ewea3

ewea4

Offshore wind more than doubles

In a separate report focusing exclusively on offshore wind (The European offshore wind industry – key trends and statistics 2015), also published in February, EWEA notes that offshoe wind capacity grew by 108% in 2015. Again, Germany was the clear leader, accounting for three-quarters of new capacity, followed by the UK and the Netherlands. Eon and RWE, the troubled German utilities, were the largest developers of offshore wind. The UK still has the largest share of offshore wind power capacity in the EU, followed by Germany and Denmark.

Ten projects, worth €13.3bn, reached final investment decision (FID) in 2015, a doubling over 2014. In total 3,034 MW of new capacity reached FID during 2015, making a cumulative total of 11,027 MW of offshore wind power capacity. A further 1,900 MW is currently under construction.

Reduced risk perception for offshore wind projects has led to the emergence of project bonds as a means of financing, notes EWEA. For the first time, €1.5bn was raised through project bonds for the construction and refinancing of offshore wind farms.

Below some more key statistics. Both reports contain a great deal of additional information, including technical data on turbines, foundations, water depths and distances to shore.

ewea5

ewea6

The original post can be found on The Energy Collective’s sister site, EnergyPost.eu

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Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Mar 2, 2016 5:45 pm GMT

“Energy Post”, who are you? You have no profile, and come out of nowhere posting timeworn pro-renewables propaganda (conflating capacity with generation).

Karel Beckman's picture
Karel Beckman on Mar 2, 2016 8:57 pm GMT

Hi Bob, you can find Energy Post here www.energypost.eu

Sorry if the title of this article is confusing, but I think it’s quite clear in the text of the article that this is about capacity. It even includes a chart on the generation share of wind energy. And if you look at figure 3, it is obvious that wind power was not only the largest source of capacity but also of generation last year! 

As to propaganda, do you want to deny the facts in the article? What is worrying you about this?  

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Mar 3, 2016 4:24 am GMT

Karel, thanks for your response.

TheEnergyCollective.com, under the editorship of Ms. Carey, was unique among online energy forums for its merciless neutrality. Articles without bylines were occasionally posted by editors; they were topics of general interest, exclusively copied from neutral sources like the U.S. Energy Information Administration (eia.gov). EIA’s mission statement:

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) collects, analyzes, and disseminates independent and impartial energy information to promote sound policymaking, efficient markets, and public understanding of energy and its interaction with the economy and the environment.

Compare to the mission statement of the European Wind Energy Assocation:

EWEA is the voice of the wind industry, promoting wind power in Europe and worldwide.

EWEA is trying to sell me something – rendering it, from a policy standpoint, infinitely less interesting. Though it would be pointless to deny facts anywhere, the task when reading something produced by promotional sources is determining what’s factual and what’s hype.

Considering “capacity” synonymous with “generation” is hype, because in the case of wind in Europe it overstates generation by ~70%. That can be confusing to people who are unaware of how the technique is used exhaustively in renewables promotion; it’s not to me. You say that figure 3 makes it “obvious that wind power was the largest source of…generation last year”, when in truth that’s obviously non-obvious. At stake is the effectiveness of renewables at all, which I believe are being oversold in Germany and elsewhere at great expense to the environment.

I’m not worried about it – let’s say “curious”: is editorial direction of theenergycollective.com changing to one of renewables advocacy, or can I expect TEC to remain technologically neutral? There are many websites promoting renewables – GreenTechMedia.com, CleanTechnica.com, seia.org, awea.org, etc. and I have more than enough commercials arriving in my inbox each day.

Karel Beckman's picture
Karel Beckman on Mar 3, 2016 7:35 am GMT

Let me simply repeat the first few paragraphs of my article (and the title was mine, not EWEA’s):

 

In 2015 12,800 MW of new wind power capacity was installed in the EU, an increase of 6.3% over 2014, and more than any other form of power generation, according to recent new figures from the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA). Wind power accounted for over 44% of total power capacity installations in the EU last year.

There is now 142 GW of installed wind power capacity in the EU, notes EWEA: 131 GW onshore and 11 GW offshore. Wind energy has overtaken hydro as the third largest source of power generation in the EU with a 15.6% share of total power capacity. Since 2000,. wind has accounted for one third of all new power installations since 2000. Conventional power sources such as fuel oil and coal continue to decommission more capacity than they install. Gas installations also saw a high rate of capacity decommissioning in 2015.

According to the EWEA figures, published in its Wind in Power 2015 Eruopean Statistics report, which came out in February, Germany remains the EU country with the largest installed capacity (45 GW), followed by Spain (23 GW), the UK (14 GW) and France (10 GW). 47% of all new installations in 2015 took place in Germany. Poland, France and the UK followed with 1.3 GW, 1 GW and 970 MW respectively.

Etc. Anything here not to like? Propagandistic? Do you mean that by “technologically neutral” TEC cannot report statistics on wind energy? Does that mean we also cannot report any data anymore on say US oil and gas production, on methane emissions, CO2 emissions, the generation mix in the US? Sorry, but you fail to convince me. TEC is indeed an open platform – open to critics of wind power but also to those who support it. We require factual information and reasonable arguments, that is all. If you can’t stand to hear things you don’t like, then I’d say go somewhere else.

Nathan Wilson's picture
Nathan Wilson on Mar 3, 2016 8:57 am GMT

Karel, I must admit, I’m quite conflicted over your article.  I think it is probably ok to present wind power installation data on a capacity basis, even though it’s not ideal, due to the uncertainty of the capacity factor.

However, it is very problematic to compare different energy source using only the nameplate capacity.  I agree with Bob that the data I’d prefer to see is not nameplate capacity, but capacity-factor adjusted nameplate capacity.  However, I understand that this data is hard to find, and is essentially never presented by any news source (although utilities will report the total MWhour they generated).  The source I prefer is the Wind Technologies Market Report from the Lawrence Berkeley National Labs; it comes out in the summer and includes fraction of annual nation electricity generation from wind. Our EIA also has generation data from all sources.

But back to your article.  To single out one issue, for the sentence, “Wind energy has overtaken hydro as the third largest source of power generation in the EU“; it is apparently incorrect, since in electrical power parlance, the word “generation” is used to mean electrical energy, which could be measured in MWHours for example, not MW (warning: do not try to write an article like this until you understand the difference between power and energy).  This error contributes to the over-all frustration that you’re not telling me the capacity-factor adjusted nameplate capacity.

A potential compromise would be to simply list the average capacity factors achieved by each technology in Europe; that should be easy enough.  Although even that fix would leave big questions for the fossil fuel plants, since I suspect that the fossil fuel power plants that are getting decomissioned are the ones that weren’t running very much anyway, so I can’t tell from your graph whether “generation” from coal plants went up or down, nor can I tell whether the new wind farms will make more electrical energy than the new coal plants.  It would also be nice to know whether the European coal/gas balance was shifting (as it is so beneficially in the US).

With no clear answer to the coal question, I feel like the article did not deliver the facts that the title promised.

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Mar 3, 2016 8:49 am GMT

Karel, as editor of TEC you can report anything you like. But expect discerning readers to put limited faith in the value of statistics gleaned from promotional materials, whether from EWEA, Nuclear Matters, or Volkswagen. Their job is not to provide objective analysis but paint a pretty picture.

In your opinion is the word “generation” a reasonable and accurate substitute for “capacity”?

Karel Beckman's picture
Karel Beckman on Mar 3, 2016 9:05 am GMT

I have already indicated that I apologize if the title was confusing. It was not meant to be. I will see if I can change it.

I think the intro could not be clearer, though: 
In 2015 12,800 MW of new wind power capacity was installed in the EU, an increase of 6.3% over 2014, and more than any other form of power generation, according to recent new figures from the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA). Wind power accounted for over 44% of total power capacity installations in the EU last year.

I fail to see what is wrong with reporting new capacity installations.

If you are interested in renewable generation figures for Europe based on Eurostat data check out this article: http://www.energypost.eu/record-increase-renewables-europe-emissions-sta...

 

Willem Post's picture
Willem Post on Mar 3, 2016 1:32 pm GMT

Karel,

Reporting on installed wind turbine capacity, MW, and not mention generation, MWh/y, is grossly deficient.

After all, the purpose of all this it to produce energy, not just to litter the land- and seascape with wind turbines.

As you know, wind energy is notoriously erratic.

To compare wind energy, as some people do, with nuclear, hydro, or fossil energy is blasphemous; the latter energy sources are steady, 24/7/365, dispatchable, not intermittent, not weather-dependent, not variable. Wind energy needs all sorts of crutches to be viable.

In New England, Germany, etc.:

– Wind energy is near zero at least 25% of the hours of the year (it takes a wind speed of about 7 mph to start the rotors), minimal most early mornings and most late afternoons. About 70% of annual wind energy is generated during October – April, and about 30% during May – September.

– PV Solar energy is zero about 65% of the hours of the year, minimal early mornings and late afternoons, minimal much of the winter, and near-zero with snow and ice on the panels. CSP with 10 hours of storage provides steady, high-quality, dispatachable, 24/7/365 energy.

– During winter in New England, PV solar energy, on a monthly basis, is as low as 1/4 of what it is during the best month in summer; 1/6 in Germany. On a daily basis, the worst winter day is as low as 1/25 of the best summer day.

– Often both, wind and PV solar, are simultaneously at near-zero levels during many hours of the year. See URL, click on Renewables. In the Fuel Mix Chart you see the instantaneous wind and PV solar %. 

http://www.iso-ne.com/isoexpress/

– Germany has excellent public records for the past 12 years showing the variability and intermittency of wind and PV solar energy.

That means, in New England, Germany, etc., without adequate and viable energy storage systems, almost ALL other existing generators must be kept in good running order, staffed, fueled, and ready to provide steady, high-quality, dispatachable, 24/7/365 energy. At higher wind energy percentages, a greater capacity of flexible generators would be required to operate at part load, and ramp up and down, which is inefficient (more Btu/kWh, more CO2/kWh*) to provide energy for peaking, filling-in and balancing the variable PV solar and wind energy.

* The CO2 reduction effectiveness of wind energy in Ireland, with an island grid, is about 52.6% at 17% annual wind energy on the grid. Peaking, filling-in and balancing of the wind energy is mostly with gas-fired, combined-cycle, gas turbine generators, as it would be in New England, unless adequate capacity HVDC lines to Canada were built to enable Hydro-Quebec to perform this service with near-CO2-free hydro energy.

http://www.theenergycollective.com/willem-post/2264202/reducing-us-primary-energy-wind-and-solar-energy-and-energy-efficiency

The real and reactive power, and frequency and voltage of the energy of wind turbine plants are variable. These very short-term variations are due to a blade passing the mast*, about once per second, and the various wind speed velocities and directions entering the plane swept by the rotor. A plant with multiple wind turbines would have a “fuzzy”, low-quality, unsteady output. These short-term variations are separate from those due to the weather, and usually need to be reduced, such as by reactive power compensation with synchronous-condenser systems, before feeding into a grid, especially “weak” grids, to avoid excessive grid disturbances.

* This passing creates a burst of audible and inaudible sound of various frequencies; the base frequency is about 1 Hz, similar to a person’s heart beat, and the harmonics at 2, 4 and 8 Hz are similar to the natural frequencies of other human organs. Inaudible sound, a.k.a. infrasound (less than 20 Hz), likely causes adverse health impacts on nearby people and animals, including DNA damage to nearby pregnant animals, and their fetuses and newborn offspring. Because infrasound travels long distances, a buffer zone of at least one mile would be required to sufficiently reduce these adverse impacts on people; roaming animals would continue to be exposed. See wcfn.org URL.

http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy06osti/39183.pdf

http://wcfn.org/2014/03/31/windfarms-vertebrates-and-reproduction/

http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/84293/wind-turbine-noise-and-air-pressure-pulses

Aaron Weiner's picture
Aaron Weiner on Mar 3, 2016 1:44 pm GMT

As per the suggestions in the comments, the author of this post Karel Beckman has asked the title of this article be changed, replacing the word “Generation” with “Capacity,” so I’ve switched it out.

– Aaron Weiner, TEC Content Moderator

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Mar 3, 2016 4:37 pm GMT

Karel, thanks for changing the title, and I apologize for the accusatory tone of my first post.

In the past, discussion at TheEnergyCollective.com has been distinguished by a culture where accurate and reliable sourcing borders on an obsession. I’ve been taken to task many times, been proven wrong, had my mind changed. And hopefully, we advance the dialog.

I did check Eurostat for figures that might support EWEA’s. Like EIA’s presentation, however, it takes some experience to figure out how to get the dataset for which you’re searching. In this case I wasn’t able to find data for new EU capacity broken down by year and type of generation. Your source at energypost.eu claims their analysis is based on Eurostat data but provides no explicit references, which in itself is somewhat of a red flag. I have no idea who “sandbag.org.uk” is, and whether their interest is accuracy or advancing an agenda. If you know where that data is available at eurostat.eu that would be a welcome addition.

Here in the U.S. we’re in the midst of a political campaign season where facts are manufactured like cheap candy, and a top candidate proudly compares himself to Mussolini. So we might be a bit hypersensitive about accuracy.

Mark Heslep's picture
Mark Heslep on Mar 3, 2016 4:40 pm GMT

Nice post Willem, though ironically the figures were over optimistic in one instance that jumped out at me.

…”1/6 in Germany. “

Last year the German solar monthly min/max ratio was 1 to 12, December 2014, .43 TWh,  to June 2015, 5.2 TWh


https://www.energy-charts.de/energy.htm

Willem Post's picture
Willem Post on Mar 3, 2016 7:07 pm GMT

Mark,

Thank you for the URL. I will use it in my article.

……………………………………………Max/Min ratio

2015……..0.59 Jan……….5.18 Jul……..8.8

2014……..0.43 Dec………5.32 Jun……12.4

2013……..0.36 Jan……….5.36 Jul……14.9

Mark Heslep's picture
Mark Heslep on Mar 3, 2016 10:21 pm GMT

The new gas fired electric capacity shown in Figure 6, “Net … Installations in the EU 2000-2015” of 120 GW is notable.  No such fossile power installation program accompanied the decarbonization of France or Sweden in the 80’s and 90s’.   For purposes of carbon emissions, the gas installation record indicates intermittent power plus gas is not a long term alternative.   After the record of the past 15 years, the article comment, Gas installations also saw a high rate of capacity decommissioning in 2015″ does border on propaganda. 

A one country check from the reliable Fraunhofer ISE on electric generation for Germany 2015 (TWh):

  • Coal (brown + hard): 243 
  • Nuclear: 87
  • Wind: 85
  • Biomass: 57
  • Solar: 37
  • Gas: 30
  • Hydro: 20

Total 559 TWh 2015, wind share 15%.

I don’t know the coal capacity decommissioning record in Germany, but it is clear that the total fossil fueled capacity, coal plus gas, at 101 GW is identical to German fossil fuel capaciy in 2002.  

More important is whether coal generation has been displaced by the new wind installation.  All german coal generation in 2002 was 252 TWh, 3% greater than 2015’s 243 TWh.  In Germany then, wind has mainly replaced the 2011-2012 nuclear shutdowns, which declined 44% since 2002.

 

 

 

Nathan Wilson's picture
Nathan Wilson on Mar 4, 2016 3:53 am GMT

“…infrasound (less than 20 Hz) [from wind farms], likely causes adverse health impacts on nearby people and animals, including DNA damage to nearby pregnant animals, and their fetuses and newborn offspring.

The scientific gold standard for this situation is the control, double-blind laboratory test, which I did not see mentioned in your sources.  If anything, these anecdotal red-flags should be cause for further scientific investigation; certainly not cause for a change in public policy wrt windpower.

Engineer- Poet's picture
Engineer- Poet on Mar 4, 2016 10:45 am GMT

it’s hard to do double-blind testing when it’s so hard to secretly administer infrasound; the separation required for isolation is just one of the difficulties.  Then you have the ethical issues of exposure to harmful agents.

Epidemiological evidence is probably the best we’re going to get.

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Mar 4, 2016 6:43 pm GMT

You both bring up good points.

There are probably effects on cows due to audio coming from highways built next to dairy farms. Seems searching for a definitive, quantitative answer would be an exercise in futility.

People are less distant from cows on the evolutionary tree than we like to think, and we can always just poll people.

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