The EU Commission has announced plans that will see the rate of build of Europe’s wind energy capacity increase from 15 GW per year to 30 GW up to 2030
The plans are part of the European Commission’s ‘Fit-for-55’ package, a series of legislative proposals to deliver the EU’s increased climate target of a 55% emissions reduction by 2030.
The package includes a higher renewables target and new rules to support the expansion of renewables.
Last year the EU increased its greenhouse gas emissions reduction target for 2030 from 40% to 55%. Today the European Commission tabled legislative changes to enable the EU to reach this new target. The so-called ‘Fit-for-55’ package contains changes to more than 10 pieces of legislation, including a revised Renewable Energy Directive.
The Commission proposal raises the EU’s renewable energy target from 32% to 40% by 2030. This means the EU will need 451 GW of wind power capacity by 2030, up from 180 GW today. This means the EU will need to install 30 GW of new windfarms every year between now and 2030 – a major acceleration in the expansion of wind energy. As it stands, the EU expects to build only 15 GW a year over 2021-25.
WindEurope chief executive Giles Dickson said, “The Fit-for-55 package sends a clear message to consumers and investors. The EU wants a major expansion in renewables by 2030, with nearly twice as much new wind as we’re currently building. And the EU wants to accelerate the electrification of those sectors that have so far relied on fossil fuels. This is good for the climate. And good for the economy. The Fit-for-55 package means major new investments. It’s a package for jobs and growth.”
The revision of the EU Renewable Energy Directive crucially improves the legal framework for corporate power purchase agreements (PPAs). Member states would have to issue guarantees of origin (GOs) for all renewable electricity, regardless of whether the producer was awarded support in government auctions. This will improve the traceability of renewable electricity.
To further incentivise electrification, the package includes indicative annual renewables targets for industry; the share of renewables in industry should increase by 1.1% annually.
“The package will trigger additional demand from industry and other big energy consumers who want to source renewables directly. Energy-intensive companies are knocking on our door wanting us to help them decarbonise. And this will only increase”, says Dickson.
The new Renewable Energy Directive will also help the development of offshore wind including hybrid offshore windfarms that have multiple grid connections. The proposal would require EU countries to jointly plan their offshore wind build-out in each sea basin.
“The transition of the power sector is in full swing. Now we need to decarbonise the rest of the energy system,” said Mr Dickson. However, he noted that the main hurdle to a rapid expansion of wind energy in Europe remains the complex rules and procedures for permitting new wind farms. WindEurope has therefore called on the European Commission to work with member states to help them simplify their permitting rules and procedures.
Mr Dickson said, “The Commission wants wind to be half of Europe’s electricity by 2050 and wants over twice as much wind capacity in 2030 as we have today.
“This is perfectly feasible from the point of view of technology and finance. But it needs a major improvement in the permitting procedures for new wind farms across Europe. The EU has a key role to play here in identifying and promoting best practice.”
The various legislative proposals that make up the Fit-for-55 package now have to be negotiated and agreed by the 27 EU Member States and the European Parliament.
Also responding to the proposals, Iberdrola chairman and chief executive Ignacio Galán said, “The Fit for 55 package shows that Europe is tackling the climate crisis with urgency and optimism. There is no time left to move slowly or allow carbon emissions to have an unabated role in any sector. Policies drive change, and we welcome that this package seeks to prioritise cleaner solutions in all sectors than the continued use of fossil fuels.
“Increasing the renewables target to 40% by 2030 is ambitious but achievable. Technology advancements and cost reduction in wind, solar and storage mean that renewables is the most competitive form of electricity generation today. The energy system can integrate renewables at this scale, as has been proven time and again in many countries in Europe already. It will be important for every country to look at their processes for planning and permitting to ensure projects can be delivered in the necessary timescales.”
The World Economic Forum said the Fit for 55 package “marks an important step in overhauling climate policies and enabling the EU to deliver on its commitments.”
Also responding to the Fit-for-55 package, Wood Mackenzie said, “The greatest opportunities centre on the build-out of wind, solar and storage capacity necessary for the 2030 target to become a reality.
“Europe must rapidly shift from being a power market where centrally dispatched supply follows demand to one where demand can respond to an increasingly variable, weather-driven supply from renewable sources.
“Current National Energy and Climate Plans target 53% of electricity supply coming from renewable sources across Europe. The new target will require 65% of electricity supply to come from renewables by 2030.
“According to Wood Mackenzie data we would need 472 GW of additional wind and solar across the European power system by 2030 to secure this new renewables target. Spread over nine years, that’s 52 GW of wind and solar additions per year. Over the last decade Europe has averaged a build rate of 20 GW per annum. So we need a 160% ramp-up on average wind and solar annual build rates to achieve the new target.
“Is this achievable? Optimistically, of course it is. There is great appetite to ramp-up wind and solar build out across the continent. Capital has found a new home, and it’s green.
“But it’s going to be unnecessarily challenging unless further policy and regulation changes are made. The planning, connection and permitting process will need to be streamlined, distribution networks investment will need to be in place and regulators will need to adopt a new net zero mindset. On top of this, system flexibility build out will need to be supported, and market reforms will need to be in place to ensure it is fit for operating in a zero marginal cost producers’ environment.”