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European wind power capacity additions in 2018 drop to lowest since 2011: WindEurope

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Europe installs 11.7 GW gross additional wind capacity

Growth in onshore wind falls by more than 50% in Germany

Uncertain investment outlook due to permitting problems: CEO

London — Wind power capacity additions in Europe fell in 2018 to their lowest level since 2011, according to a report Thursday from industry group WindEurope.

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"Europe installed 11.7 GW (10.1 GW in the EU) of gross additional wind power capacity in 2018. This is a 32% decrease compared to 2017," it said.

Growth in onshore wind capacity additions fell by over half in Germany and collapsed in the UK, while 12 EU countries did not install a single wind turbine, association CEO Giles Dickson said.

And while investments in future capacity were "quite good" last year thanks to the UK, Spain and Sweden, "the outlook for new investments is uncertain," Dickson said.

"There are structural problems in permitting, especially in Germany and France. And with the noble exception of Lithuania and despite improvements in Poland, there's a lack of ambition in Central and Eastern Europe," he said.

"The 2030 National Energy and Climate Plans are a chance to put things right. But the draft plans are badly lacking in detail: on policy measures, auction volumes, how to ease permitting and remove other barriers to wind investments, and how to expand the grid," he said.

"Governments need to sort this out before they finalize the plans this year," he added.

Wind energy provided 14% of the EU's total electricity demand in 2018, WindEurope said in Thursday's report, representing a 2% increase from 2017's share.

The increase in wind's share was in part due to lower electricity demand registered, it said.

Of a total of 2,645 TWh of electricity consumed in the EU, wind provided 362 TWh. Of this figure, 309 TWh came from onshore wind and 53 TWh from offshore wind.

Wind power output was steady in 2018 overall, reflecting increased installed capacity canceling out the effects of less windy conditions, the report said.

"Throughout 2018, wind power plants produced a stable output, with peak production (98 GW of average output during the day) on December 8. On that day, wind energy supplied one third of Europe's electricity needs," it said.

"2018 was a less windy year than 2017. This is reflected in a decrease of the capacity factors both for onshore (22%) and offshore (36%)," WindEurope added.

Denmark had the highest share of wind in Europe at 41% of electricity demand, followed by Ireland at 28%, Portugal 24%, Germany 21%, Spain 19% and the UK with 18%, according to the report.

On average, the most powerful onshore wind turbines were installed in Norway, with an average rating of 3.6 MW. The largest turbines in the world were installed in the UK -- two turbines each with a power rating of 8.8 MW -- at the European Offshore Wind Deployment Center wind farm, as part of an 11-turbine installation off the coast of Aberdeenshire in Scotland, it said.

With a total installed capacity of 178.8 GW in the EU, wind energy remains the second largest form of power generation capacity in the EU-28 countries, and is likely to overtake natural gas installations in 2019, WindEurope added.

-- Frank Watson, frank.watson@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Shashwat Pradhan, newsdesk@spglobal.com

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