Dr. Isabel Boira-Segarra, Sector Leader for Renewables Europe at EC Harris explains how those at the forefront of wind energy technology will reap the rewards for the risks they take.
With some countries across Europe questioning nuclear power in the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster, there is growing momentum for renewable energy sources to play a continuing role in helping to meet the continent’s rising energy demands and to hit its testing carbon reduction targets. Given that a number of major European nations enjoy coastal frontiers, large-scale offshore wind is one area that many analysts believe has the potential to make a real contribution to this evolving European energy mix.
Regions like the UK and Scandinavia have long been at the vanguard of the global offshore wind industry and they are continuing to press ahead in this space
with ambitious plans already in place to build additional farms over the coming years. In Germany, a similar picture is emerging with private equity giant Blackstone recently investing £2.2 billion in two offshore wind farms, in a move that many analysts believe is a direct result of the German government’s recent wind support package. When one of Blackstone’s projects is complete in 2013, it will become Germany’s largest-ever offshore wind farm, delivering 288MW of electricity to the grid and, crucially, avoiding one million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions each year.
With offshore wind projects still heavily reliant on subsidies, fiscal and regulatory incentives will continue to be of paramount importance in how the offshore wind industry develops across Europe over the coming decade. In that respect the UK is leading the way, with the UK’s Renewable Road Map offering a clear signal that offshore wind will be a key component in the UK’s future energy mix, with the cost of delivery expected to be reduced to £100/MWh over the next ten years. The industry has received a similar boost in Germany where additional fiscal and economic support is expected in the coming twelve months, highlighting the country’s clear commitment to offshore wind and the role it will play in helping to replace the 23 per cent of Germany’s energy mix that had previously been generated by nuclear. Other markets including Belgium and the Netherlands enjoy comparable access to strong and reliable amounts of wind and if the correct regulatory framework is in place developers will inevitably focus their attention on these markets as well.