Sustainable Energy

Offshore wind investments in Europe reached $19.5 billion last year, according to new data

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Investments in offshore wind hit a new record of 18.2 billion euros ($19.5 billion) in 2016, according to new statistics from industry body WindEurope. The investments relate to new developments over the coming years, WindEurope said.

Over 1.5 gigawatts (GW) of new installations were made last year – a 48 percent fall compared to 2015 – with Europe's total offshore wind capacity now standing at 12.6 GW. The 1.5 GW of installations were made across Germany, the Netherlands and the U.K., and spread across seven wind farms.

"We've installed on average one wind turbine every day in Europe for the last two years," Giles Dickson, chief executive of WindEurope, said in a statement.

"With a strong pipeline of new projects on the way, we expect the numbers to rise quickly over the next 4 years," Dickson added. "We should see over 3 GW of new installations in 2017. And we're set to reach 25 GW total capacity by 2020 – double today's level."

Oliver Joy, a spokesperson for WindEurope, told CNBC via email that Europe now had enough offshore wind capacity to power 13 million homes.

"As developers continue to bring down cost, the appeal of offshore wind as a secure, sustainable and affordable energy solution can only grow," he said.

"Last year, we saw the lowest prices for offshore wind to date in four separate tenders in the Netherlands and Denmark," he went on to explain, before adding that this put "offshore wind on a par with the likes of coal and gas."

"The industry is already meeting its cost reduction goals ahead of time, strengthening the economic argument for more offshore wind over conventional power sources."

While 2016 was a record year for Europe in terms of investments in offshore wind, in the U.S. it is a relatively nascent industry. At the end of last year, America's first offshore wind farm, located off the coast of Rhode Island, commenced commercial operations.