The UK, Belgium, Germany, Portugal and most notably Denmark have recorded rises in wind energy production over the past 12 months.
However the industry’s main European lobby has warned governments that similar progress can only be made if investment is facilitated rather than hindered.
Denmark‘s energy ministry released figures showing 39.1 per cent of its electricity in 2014 came from wind power. To put in context, in 2004 wind accounted for 18.8 per cent of the country’s electricity production.
Oliver Joy, spokesman at EWEA told Power Engineering International that such a performance can be emulated across the EU if the right conditions are in place.
“These countries have all shown a strong commitment to the development of wind energy in some form or another whether through onshore or offshore. However, the right conditions need to be in place. Governments must avoid abrupt changes to support schemes and ‘stop-start’ policies that can blindside investors and reduce visibility going forward. If a European country has no regulatory guarantees in place or makes harsh retroactive changes to incentive programmes, then the investment will be difficult to attract.”
Grid operator Energinet.dk shows that over the last decade Denmark has pulled ahead of the rest of the field with particular increases between 2010 and 2011 and again between 2013 and 2014.
Denmark’s most productive month was January 2014, when wind energy produced 61.7 per cent of its electricity. July was the least productive month, with 23 per cent provided by wind.
The Danish performance was anticipated as 100 new offshore wind turbines were brought online throughout the course of the year.
Meanwhile, according to an independent analysis of National Grid figures commissioned by wind trade body RenewableUK, the annual electricity output of the UK’s wind sector grew by 15 per cent last year. Overall, wind power provided 9.3 per cent of UK electricity supply in 2014, compared with 7.8% in 2013.
December in the UK was a record-breaking month, with 14 per cent of the UK’s electricity produced by wind, beating the record of 13 per cent set a year earlier.
Last month in Germany was also one for the record books. Turbines there produced 8.9TWh in December, more than any month previously. The figures were released by IWR, a German renewable energy research institute.
That record looks likely to be broken again in the coming year as Germany adds the Vattenfall 288 MW DanTysk and RWE 295 MW Nordsee Ost wind farms to its capacity.
Wind supplied 24 per cent of Portugal’s energy demand in the last year.
Oliver Joy told PEi that the results indicate the growing strength of the sector. “These impressive figures show that wind energy can be just as reliable and cost-effective as conventional generation in meeting power demand. The European Commission report last October showed that onshore wind energy was the cheapest form of energy among renewables and conventionals such as coal when external costs are priced in.”