As nations constantly seek to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels and cut emissions, European wind energy capacity has shown consistent growth. Lead by nations such as Germany, installed wind energy capacity continues to grow, with approximately 6,119 megawatts of capacity installed during the first half of 2017. European growth is second only to that seen in Asia, where countries such as China have made Asia the fastest growing region for wind energy capacity. On a nation-by-nation basis, China added more capacity than any other country during 2016, followed by the United States and Germany.
During 2016, wind energy was the most significant contributor to the renewable energy mix. Wind energy made up 12 percent of the German energy mix, while renewable sources of energy made up 29 percent of the overall energy mix.
While wind energy is the most significant contributor in Germany, this is not the case for the EU 28 as a whole. Wind energy was the second most significant contributor to the renewable energy mix in the EU 28, with hydraulic power making the largest contribution. Wind energy has been closing the gap over the past three years, rising from 28.1 percent of the renewable energy mix to 32.3 percent, while hydraulic power fell from 41.8 percent of the renewable energy mix to 36.4 percent.
Despite promising growth, there are some elements of uncertainty within the European wind energy sector. Member States of the EU are yet to reveal their national energy and climate plans, which will outline how they intend to meet the agreed renewable energy target of 27 percent of final energy consumption by 2030. Until the national energy and climate action plans are revealed, investors, manufacturers and regulators lack a certain way of knowing how wind energy capacity may develop in coming years.
Even with the underlying uncertainty, recent investment trends point to promising levels of growth in the sector. A record 43 billion euros was invested in the sector during 2016, up from 35 billion euros in 2015. This marked the fourth consecutive year in which investment levels grew in the industry, a solid indication that wind energy will continue to play a significant role in reducing Europe's reliance on fossil fuels.