The offshore wind energy market in Europe is projected to experience robust growth, primarily due to increased investment in projects involving wind energy. Governments throughout Europe have been prompted to promote the adoption of renewable energy sources, including wind and solar, following growing concern related to greenhouse gas emissions. Increasing investments in offshore wind projects are now expected to provide the impetus needed to grow the offshore wind energy market. Some factors, including delayed regulatory approvals and the high cost of installation, could prove to restrain the growth of the offshore wind energy market in Europe, however.
The UK is among the largest markets for offshore wind energy in Europe in the last few years. Favorable government policies, including the Energy Act of 2013, combined with increased investments, have helped level the costs of offshore wind. Germany currently is expected to show rapid growth over the course of the next decade. Increasing investment from the private sector, along with a large number of approved projects, has helped expand the growth of offshore wind energy in Germany. Other regions, including Netherlands and Denmark, are also expected to experience a large degree of growth by the year 2024.
Although consumers tend to be more familiar with solar panels, it should be noted that wind power is increasingly becoming a vital part of renewable energy growth throughout Europe. In fact, the total amount installed capacity for wind energy in the region has now exceeded the total capacity for coal-fueled electric power plants for the first time. As wind generation continues to come online over the next several years, this gap is likely to expand even further.
Sweden has proven to be a shining example of dedication to the use of renewable energy. Energy use in the country primarily is based on renewable energy, largely due to a wealth of natural assets and commitment to cutting-edge technology. Since the oil crisis of the 1970s, Sweden has committed to heavy investments while seeking viable alternative energy sources. Oil comprised more than 75 percent of energy supplies in Sweden in 1970. Today, that number has declined to 20 percent.
Surprisingly, few countries in Europe consume more energy on a per-capita basis than does Sweden. Even so, carbon emissions in Sweden remain low compared to other countries in the region. Even as the Swedish economy grows, the country has found a way to reduce emissions. Among the reasons that Sweden has been able to achieve such a low emission rate is the fact that more than 80 percent of electricity production in the country comes from hydroelectric and nuclear power. Ten percent of Sweden’s electricity output comes from CHP plants, or combined heat and power plants. These plants are powered primarily by biofuels.
An increasing number of businesses in Sweden have chosen to invest in renewable energy. A prime example of this is Wallenstam. In 2006, the company made the decision to invest in green electricity for tenants as well as its own operations. Six years later, Wallenstam became the first such company in the country to become completely self-sufficient in terms of renewable energy. Numerous other property companies in Sweden are now following the example set by Wallenstam. Among them is Eneas, a market leader in both Norway and Sweden, which is working to provide more energy-efficient operations in the region.
Globally, wind power is now the fastest-growing renewable energy source. In Sweden, the capacity for wind power is expanding at a rapid pace. Since 2000, the production of wind power in Sweden has increased significantly. Sweden is now home to approximately 3,100 wind turbines. Challenges do remain. For instance, heavy demands have been placed on the electricity supply grid due to fluctuating production levels combined with a rising market share for wind power. As a result, it is necessary for the electricity supply grid to be expanded as well as strengthened.
Sweden is making strides in achieving its goals. The country is set to begin producing all energy via renewable sources by the year 2040. According to regulatory officials in Sweden, the country has access to many excellent places to position land-based wind turbines, and since Sweden is not densely populated, there is tremendous potential. Wind power has continued to increase gradually in Sweden, becoming more cost-efficient. Even though wind power is still a small percentage of Sweden’s overall energy production, it was only a few years ago that wind power accounted for nearly 0 percent of all energy production. By 2030, Sweden hopes to add 17 terawatt-hours of annual renewable electricity production.
Electricity production companies in Sweden are doing their part to help. Vattenfall, the Swedish state energy company, announced two years ago that it would begin selling off lignite operations in Germany, citing the fact that the operations were not compatible with Vattenfall’s climate change goals.
Additionally, Sweden has recently reached an agreement with India to collaborate in the energy sector by focusing on hydropower, waste-to-energy, solar energy, and smart metering. Bilateral meetings were conducted between the two countries last year to discuss green financing and investment, smart cities, smart grid and energy solutions, energy-efficient mining and mine automation, and electromobility. Reflecting a continued commitment to optimizing renewable energy, five Swedish energy companies have also announced plans to partner with Punjab Energy Development Agency.
Sweden has also been working to educate households about the importance of renewable energy usage. A law on energy declaration was introduced in 2008 for the purposes of showing the amount of energy a building consumes compared to other buildings. The declaration scheme, which aims to promote more efficient energy use, applies to all owners of blocks of flats and private homes. In other efforts, the Swedish government has been investing heavily in advice and information on showing households the best way to save on energy. All of the 290 municipalities in Sweden are appointed with an energy advisor to whom residents can turn for guidance and advice. Information is available on such topics as using low-energy lights, replacing windows, and transitioning to alternative heating systems.