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Wind blows by coal in Europe: data

[PARIS] Wind power has overtaken coal as the second largest form of power generation by capacity in Europe, according to industry data published on Thursday.

WindEurope, the industry lobby group, said in its annual review of the sector that Europe had installed 12.5 gigawatt (GW) of gross additional wind capacity in 2016, bringing the total installed capacity to 153.7 GW.

"Wind energy has now overtaken coal as the second largest form of power generation capacity in Europe." Coal facilities capable of producing 152 GW were on line last year, according to WindEurope.

Europe's wind power generation capacity was still behind gas-fired power plants, which are capable of producing 186 GW.

In terms of electricity consumption, wind power covered just 10.4 per cent of Europe's electricity demand last year, down from 10.7 per cent in 2015, the body said.

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Wind accounted for 51 per cent of all new power installations in 2016, WindEurope said.

Germany was the largest market in new wind power capacity installation, with 44 per cent of the total EU installations, WindEurope said.

The bloc's economic powerhouse was also the EU country with the largest installed wind power capacity, followed by Spain, Britain and France.

Five EU member states had a record year in new wind energy installations in 2016: France added 1.6 GW in capacity, the Netherlands 887 megawatts (MW), Finland 570 MW, Ireland 384 MW and Lithuania 178 MW.

"Wind energy is now a mainstream and essential part of Europe's electricity supply," said WindEurope chief executive Giles Dickson.

"It is also a mature and significant industry in its own right, now providing 330,000 jobs and billions of euros of European exports." Nevertheless, "government policy on energy across Europe is less clear and ambitious than it was a few years ago. Over half the member states invested nothing in wind energy last year," he complained.

Total investment in the sector amounted to 27.5 billion euros ($29 billion) in 2016, up from 26.4 billion euros in 2015, WindEurope calculated.


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