The release of EWEA’s offshore statistics for the first half of 2013 generated a lot of column inches around the world. The headlines were generally positive, reporting on the 277 offshore wind turbines newly grid connected in the first six months of this year. But the articles did not shy away from reporting on the warning signs evident in the sector, where financing of new projects has slowed down to a crawl.
Many reports focused on the details of new offshore capacity, compared with the same period last year. The first half of 2012 saw around 500 MW installed, so this year’s 1,045MW was a doubling of that figure. The total offshore capacity installed last year, at 1.2GW, has almost been surpassed in the first six months of this year, bringing the overall offshore capacity in Europe to 6.04GW across 58 wind farms in ten countries.
Despite this apparent offshore success, the fact that finance is a major concern for the industry – as stated by EWEA – was reflected in most headlines on the issue. “New offshore wind turbines begin turning, but cash scarce” from Reuters, “Finance tight as Europe adds 1GW” from Recharge Magazine or “Europe’s offshore wind industry ‘facing significant challenges’ despite doubling capacity” from edieEnergy are typical headlines from those that chose to focus on the growth of offshore capacity, but also took into account the warning from EWEA’s Justin Wilkes who said “financing of new projects has slowed down with only one project reaching financial close so far this year. This, together with a lack of orders being placed for offshore wind turbines, substructures and components, reflects the regulatory uncertainty in key offshore markets including Germany and the UK. It highlights the significant challenges faced by the offshore wind sector.
“Offshore wind is a new industry that creates jobs, reduces fossil fuel imports and in which Europe is a world leader with huge export opportunities. The installation rate shows what the European offshore wind industry is now capable of. But to attract investment to the sector governments need to provide a stable regulatory framework and the EU should set a binding renewable target for 2030”, said Wilkes.
Other headlines such as that from Bloomberg focused on the leading companies behind the current flush of offshore installations, with “EU Offshore Wind Installation Rate Doubles as Siemens Leads Way” noting the fact that Siemens accounted for 83% of new capacity, while Recharge put Dong in second place,