European offshore wind capacity grew by 18 percent in 2018, according to statistics from trade body WindEurope. Europe installed 2.6 gigawatts (GW) of new offshore capacity, with 15 new offshore wind farms coming online.
Breaking the figures down, the U.K. and Germany led the way, accounting for 85 percent of the region's new capacity. The U.K. installed 1.3 GW, while Germany was responsible for 969 megawatts (MW). Overall, Europe's total offshore capacity now stands at 18.5 GW.
WindEurope added that the "size and scale" of offshore wind in Europe was continuing to rise, with the average size of new turbines installed in 2018 hitting 6.8 MW, a 15 percent increase compared to 2017.
Europe is now home to 105 offshore wind farms including the world's largest, Walney Extension. Officially opened in September 2018, it is located in the Irish Sea, has a total capacity of 659 MW and generates electricity for almost 600,000 homes. The facility uses 87 turbines – 40 MHI-Vestas 8.25 MW turbines and 47 Siemens Gamesa 7 MW turbines – and covers an area equal to roughly 20,000 soccer pitches.
In a statement Thursday, Giles Dickson, the CEO of WindEurope, said that offshore wind continued to grow strongly in Europe. "Offshore wind now represents two percent of all the electricity consumed in Europe," he added. "And with a big pipeline of projects under construction and development, this number will rise significantly."
Europe's offshore wind statistics come in the same week that the Global Wind Energy Council announced that North, Central and South America installed 11.9 GW of wind power capacity in 2018.
This represents an increase of 12 percent compared to 2017, with total installed wind capacity for the Americas now standing at 135 GW.