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Wind boost for EU grid amid claims of a lack of long-term renewables support

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Renewables accounted for almost 90 per cent of new power added to Europe’s electricity grids last year – but industry experts claim that green schemes are facing a lack of long term support.

Lobbying group WindEurope claims that the latest figures show that green energy sources made up 86 per cent of new EU power plant installations in 2016 – 21.1GW of 24.5 GW.

Wind accounted for 51 per cent of all new power installations in 2016, connecting a total of 12.5 GW to the grid across the 28 EU Member States – 10.923 MW in onshore and 1,567 MW offshore.

However, industry experts have expressed concerns that support for the industry is too short sighted.

Giles Dickson, chief executive officer of WindEurope, said: “Wind energy is now a mainstream and essential part of Europe’s electricity supply. It is also a mature and significant industry in its own right, now providing 330,000 jobs and billions of euros of European exports.

“With all the talk about the transition to low-carbon, things should be looking good long-term for the wind industry in Europe. But they’re not.

“Government policy on energy across Europe is less clear and ambitious than it was a few years ago.

“Only seven out of 28 EU Member States have targets and policies in place for renewables beyond 2020.

“The transition from feed-in tariffs to auctions has been less smooth than we hoped. We still have dysfunctional electricity markets that are not fit for renewables. And we’re lacking long-term price signals to support investment.”

Total wind capacity in Europe now stands at 153.7 GW.

And wind energy covered 10.4 per cent of Europe’s electricity needs last year.

Germany installed the most new wind power – 44% of the EU total.

Five member sates had a record year: France, the Netherlands, Finland, Ireland and Lithuania.

Investment in new onshore and offshore wind farms reached a record €27.5bn. Offshore wind investments rose 39 per cent year on year to €18.2bn, while onshore investments were down 29 per cent at €9.3bn.

Dickson added: “We saw strong expansion in Germany in 2016 but growth remains uneven geographically.

“Over half the member states invested nothing in wind energy last year.

“Policy is key, especially when we look at the longer term.

“The member states also need to start defining in their National Energy and Climate Plans how they will deliver the transition at national level. The Clean Energy Package is the blueprint for this. The Council and the European Parliament need to start working seriously on the Commission’s proposals.”

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