* Low interest rates not translating into cheap loans
* EU austerity measures increase political risk
* Emerging offshore sector can add capacity rapidly
By Barbara Lewis
BRUSSELS, Sept 27 Installed EU wind capacity has
reached the 100 gigawatt mark - the equivalent of power
generated from 39 nuclear plants or a train of coal stretching
from Buenos Aires to Brussels - but financial risk threatens
growth, industry body EWEA said.
"We have just in the past couple of weeks passed 100
gigawatts of total installed capacity in Europe," Christian
Kjaer, CEO of the European Wind Energy Association, told a small
group of reporters.
"We have been adding about 10 gigawatts per year for a
couple of years and it will be around the same this year," he
added. "Whether that will continue in 2013, I can't say. There's
too much political uncertainty."
The capital-intensive industry faces a challenge after banks
shortened the maturity of loans and increased costs for lenders,
meaning wind power has not benefited from low interest rates,
It is seeking long-term investors, including pension funds
and insurers to make up the shortfall.
At the same time, the EU economic crisis means austerity
measures have led to abrupt changes in government policies on
funding for renewable energy, increasing political risk across
The growth in wind power this year has included 400
megawatts (MW) developed by DONG Energy, off the
coast of Denmark, and 48 MW developed by EDF Energies Nouvelles
Polska in Poland, EWEA said.
Most of the overall 100 gigawatts so far are onshore wind.
The emerging, huge-scale offshore sector has the potential
to deliver the next 100 gigawatts much faster, if it can
overcome its much bigger financing and grid issues.
Industry cost estimates for installing offshore are 3-4
million euros per megawatt, compared with around 1.2-1.4 million
euros for onshore.
To help spur future investment, EWEA wants the European
Commission and member states to agree on a policy beyond the
existing target of a 20 percent share of energy from renewable
sources by 2020. It also wants to ensure major investment in the
European grid, as part of a single energy market, in which
supplies can easily cross national borders.
"The biggest potential show stopper for us is we need better
infrastructure," Kjaer said.
The Commission has said it wants the single energy market
across the European Union to be completed by 2014, but it has
also said it is not on track to meet that deadline.
It is expected to publish a document in the coming weeks
that will lay out strategies to accelerate progress and that
discussions on the multi-annual EU budget include debate on
earmarking funds for grid infrastructure that benefit more than
UK OFFSHORE GROWTH
The nascent offshore wind sector has seen huge growth in
Britain, where attractive government subsidies have driven
investments in a technology the state expects could grow six
times larger by 2020 than its current installed capacity.
Norwegian players Statoil and Statkraft
on Thursday opened their 317-MW Sheringham Shoal offshore wind
farm off the coast of North Norfolk, extending Britain's lead in
installed offshore wind capacity, the total of which is now at
Earlier this month, Sweden's Vattenfall opened its
150-MW Ormonde offshore wind farm and a joint
venture between SSE and RWE npower started
producing first power at its 500-MW Greater Gabbard project.
Britain's total installed offshore wind capacity now
represents 60 percent of the EU's capacity and is more than
three times greater than that of the region's second-largest
market in Denmark, said RenewableUK, Britain's green energy