FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Spending on new wind capacity in Europe hit a three-year low in 2017, according to industry group WindEurope, in a sign that the sector is slashing costs and becoming more efficient as governments phase out lavish subsidies.
Investments into new onshore and offshore wind projects fell to 22.3 billion euros ($27.4 billion) across the European Union, down 19 percent from a record 27.5 billion in 2016 and also lower than the 26.2 billion in 2015, WindEurope said in its annual statistics.
However, the 2017 investments funded a record 11.5 gigawatt (GW) of new capacity, up from 10.3 GW in 2016, the data showed, indicating that cost fell to 1.9 billion euros per GW of new capacity, down from 2.7 billion in the previous year.
“Cost reductions across the industry’s value chain and increased industry competition have made it possible for investors to finance more capacity for less cash,” WindEurope said.
Europe is home to a large number of leading players in the global wind power sector, be it project developers or equipment manufacturers, including Vestas, Orsted, Siemens Gamesa, EnBW and Nordex.
Germany, which is also home to turbine maker Senvion, was the biggest investor in 2017, accounting for 30 percent of the total, followed by Britain, which took a 22 percent share.
At 14.8 billion euros, investments into new onshore projects hit an all-time high.
Across the EU, 15.7 GW of gross additional wind power capacity was installed last year, up 20 percent, bringing the total to 169 GW, second only to natural gas capacity. Wind now accounts for 18 percent of the EU’s total installed capacity.
Reporting by Christoph Steitz; Editing by Kirsten Donovan