New figures from the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) show 13 gigawatt (GW) of new wind capacity was added to the European Union grid last year compared to only 0.2GW of new hydro power.
The wind industry has surpassed the hydro industry as the third largest player in the European electricity grid in terms of capacity, and is fast closing the gap on the coal and gas sectors that continue to dominate the continent’s power mix.
Wind energy now provides a total of 142GW of capacity in Europe, with 13GW connected to the grid in 2015, according to new figures released by the EWEA.
Meanwhile, hydro capacity increased by only 0.2 GW in 2015, taking total capacity to 141GW.
Gas and coal are still the biggest providers of power in the EU with 192GW and 159GW of installed capacity, respectively.
New capacity was also 1GW higher than that recorded in 2014.
The new additions mean wind power can now meet over 11.4 per cent of Europe’s electricity demand.
“We’re a mature, mainstream, technology now, there’s no doubt about that,” Oliver Joy, public affairs spokesman for the EWEA, told British environmental news website BusinessGreen.
“We are now the largest form of renewable energy in the power mix as well.”
In a repeat of 2014, almost half of the new installed wind capacity was in Germany, where 6.0GW was installed, bringing the country’s total installed wind capacity to 45GW.
However, the story was not quite as rosy for the British wind industry, which installed only 1.0GW of new wind capacity last year, nearly half the 1.9GW installed in 2014, taking the country’s total to just shy of 14GW.
The slowdown meant the UK fell from second place in the European wind energy market league table in 2014 to fourth place in 2015, with Germany, Poland and France, which each installed over 1.0GW, all connecting more than the UK in 2015.
The figures also show that solar PV added 8.5GW new power to the grid across the bloc, putting it in second place in terms of new capacity added, while coal came in third, delivering 4.7GW of new capacity.