Thanks to stormy weather and massive new installed capacity, December 2014 saw Germany and the United Kingdom reach new record levels for wind energy production. According to renewable energy institute IWR, German turbines generated a total of 8.9 billion kilowatt hours (kWh) of wind electricity, smashing the previous record of 8.4 kWh set in December 2011. “The main reason for this record month for wind power electricity comes from current cyclonic meteorological conditions, with a large number of lower-pressure areas”, said IWR Director Norbert Allnoch.
Though the weather played its part, the record increase in installed capacity was crucial. According to German wind power trade body Bundesverband WindEnergie (BWE), Germany installed last year 4,750 megawatts (MW) of new turbines, smashing another wind energy record, the 3,250 MW of newly installed wind power capacity reached in 2002.
The actual figures represent a growth of 58 per cent over the added capacity in the previous year (2,998 megawatts). BWE president Hermann Albers states that “This has only been possible because, following the Fukushima disaster, state governments from Bavaria to Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, from Saarland to Schleswig-Holstein have set aside new areas for onshore wind generation since 2011”. For 2015 Albers expect a significant net increase in Germany in the order of 3,500 to 4,000 megawatts.
Germany exceeded a cumulative wind power capacity of more than 38,000 MW.
Meanwhile, wind power in the UK also reached new heights in 2014. Figures from the National Grid analysed by trade association Renewable UK revealed that wind power contributed a record 28.1 billion kWh of electricity in 2014, up from 24.5 billion kWh in 2013. In total, wind energy accounted for 9.3 percent of the UK’s electricity supply in 2014, a 1.5 percent increase over 2013.
While Germany and the UK have seen wind energy grow by leaps and bounds in the last decade, Denmark has edged ahead of its European neighbours in terms of wind energy’s overall contribution to the country’s electricity supply. New figures released by Denmark’s energy ministry indicate that 39.1 percent of its electricity is generated by wind turbines. Not only do these figures beat other countries’ efforts “by a long way”, as a ministry spokesman put it, they also leave Denmark well placed to reach its 2020 goal of generating 50 percent of its power needs from renewable energy sources.