2017 a record year for installing wind energy capacity in Ireland

State ‘is the member state with the highest level of installed wind capacity relative to its power consumption’

Ireland was among seven EU member states that reported a record 2017 for wind energy, according to the industry group WindEurope.

With a 20 per cent growth in wind energy installations in the wider electricty generating system compared to 2016, wind now meets 11.6 per cent of the EU’s electricity demand. In Ireland, it has climbed to 24 per cent.

Wind generated 55 per cent of total new EU power capacity last year, more than any other form of power generation. Denmark was the member state with the highest penetration rate (44 per cent), followed by Portugal (24 per cent) and Ireland.


With newly-installed wind capacity of 426 megawatts (MW) and an average power consumption of three gigawatts (GW), "Ireland is the member state with the highest level of installed wind capacity relative to its power consumption", WindEurope reported on Tuesday. Germany and the UK follow closely, both at 12 per cent.


Europe installed 15.7 GW of new wind last year, up 20 per cent compared to 2016, bringing the total to 169 GW, second only to natural gas capacity, WindEurope’s statistics indicate. This was split 12.5 GW onshore and 3.1 GW offshore.

Ireland installed 164 new turbines last year; all of which were onshore. Wind now accounts for 18 per cent of the EU’s total installed capacity, having overtaken coal in 2016.

In spite of strong growth in capacity and generation, spending on new wind capacity in Europe hit a three-year low in 2017, though this was “a sign that the sector is cutting costs and becoming more efficient” as governments phase out subsidies. “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,” the report added.


Investments into new onshore and offshore wind projects fell to €22.3 billion across the EU, down 19 per cent from a record €27.5 billion in 2016. However, the 2017 investments funded a record 11.5 GW of new capacity, up from 10.3 GW in 2016, the data shows. That means costs fell to €1.9 billion per GW of new capacity, down from €2.7 billion in the previous year.

Europe is home to a large number of leading players in the global wind power sector, including project developers and equipment manufacturers, such 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 per cent of the total, followed by Britain (22 per cent share). At €14.8 billion, investments into new onshore projects hit an all-time high.

The seven member states had a record year in installations last year were Germany (6.6 GW), the UK (4.3 GW), France (1.7 GW), Finland (577 MW), Belgium (476 MW), Ireland (426 MW) and Croatia (147 MW). – Additional reporting Reuters

Kevin O'Sullivan

Kevin O'Sullivan

Kevin O'Sullivan is Environment and Science Editor and former editor of The Irish Times