Europe's First Glimpse of Solar, Wind Plans

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"Wind farms set to expand rapidly across Europe's coastal waters."

Wind turbine farms are set to expand rapidly across Europe's coastal waters, throwing up challenges and opportunities for industry, according to a Reuters analysis of a leaked draft of EU energy strategies.

A picture of the European Union's renewable energy landscape for 2020 is emerging for the first time as the bloc's 27 member states scramble to meet a deadline for setting their "National Renewable Energy Action Plans."

The documents were due to be delivered to the European Commission by midnight on Wednesday, although most missed the deadline and none of the plans has yet been made public.

But a number of draft plans seen by Reuters point to massive growth in the onshore wind-farm capacity—30% in Germany, 130% in Ireland, 230 percent in Italy and 74% in Spain.

Offshore wind is also expected to soar, from virtually zero today to around 10,000 Megawatts in Germany, 2,300 MW in Ireland, 1,000 MW in Italy and 3,000 MW in Spain.

That is likely to pose a massive challenge for the wind industry's support services.

"For offshore wind we will need significant investments in infrastructure, such as grids, harbors and vessels that can accommodate and transport machines the size of offshore wind turbines across the sea," said Justin Wilkes, policy director at the European Wind Energy Association.

The plans give a detailed picture of European governments' vision, but much hangs on how effectively they are executed. The availability of finance, subsidies and support services will play a big role, as will planning and political stability.

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