Western Europe has less than 4GW of natural gas powered plant under development, reports Platts, a global information provider for industry and markets.

According to Platts‘ Power in Europe Project Tracker, the level of development is the lowest in over a decade.

The project tracker by Platts’ long running publication Power in Europe studies electric power generation capacity and construction of power facilities in the continent.

Power in Europe associate editorial director Henry Edwardes-Evans said: "Since 2008, Europe has experienced strong subsidised growth in renewable energy, sustained periods of weak demand and low wholesale power prices, all of which have deterred thermal plant investment, particularly gas plant construction.

"There are only pockets of opportunity for thermal plant development in West Europe.

"Upcoming capacity auctions in the UK and Belgium are expected to be hotly contested, but in Germany, sector analysts see no need for thermal plant additions for several years. In fact, there is a trend of closures and mothballing of plants across Germany, the Netherlands, France and Austria."

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In September 2006 and early 2012, the tracker had recorded 23GW and 15GW of combined-cycle gas turbine (CCGT) plants under construction, respectively.

Reasons behind the lack of growth can be shelving of several approved CCGT facilities, and a few operational plants are up for sale such as those owned by Verbund in France and three UK plants owned by Centrica."

"There are only pockets of opportunity for thermal plant development in West Europe."

Around 35GW of CCGT plants are shelved while many others are being broken up with equipment being sold overseas.

The tracker indicates that 6.8GW of coal power plants in construction are all in Germany and the Netherlands, and only 3GW are in the "approved" category, with no immediate prospect of further progress.

The facilities were planned when demand was surging and prices were higher.

With regard to pumped-storage hydropower, the report says that this segment is going through a development surge. Around 4.6GW of hydropower plants are in construction, mainly in Switzerland and Portugal.

Under the nuclear category, approximately 3.2GW plants are in construction in West Europe. Two European Pressurized water Reactor (EPR) projects are, however, progressing at slow pace.

Around 15 offshore wind farms, of a total 4.3GW, are under construction and majority of them are in Germany (2.36 GW), followed by the UK (1.4 GW).

Compared to last year, capacity additions in renewable segment are down 25% and the sector representatives think this contraction will continue till 2016.