Europe wants wind energy – and offshore wind in particular – to play a leading role in the energy system of the future, but some EU member countries are ‘laggards’ when it comes to defining national energy plans that can help achieve ambitious targets
Wind energy accounts for 300,000 jobs in Europe and contributes €37Bn (US44Bn) to European Union GDP every year according to WindEurope’s new report, Wind Energy and economic recovery in Europe – How wind energy will put communities at the heart of the European recovery.
In a webinar held to announce details of the report, which was launched against a background of highly ambitious goals for European wind energy and for offshore wind in particular, European Commission head of climate cabinet Diederik Samsom said, “We have pressed ‘fast forward’ on Europe’s growth strategy.
“Wind will play an enormous role in that strategy and in the energy system of the future,” he said, highlighting the imminent launch of Europe’s offshore renewables strategy, which will have offshore wind at its heart.
The WindEurope report highlights Europe’s leadership in wind energy but says delivering National Energy and Climate Plans (NECPs) is the key to future growth and if gaps in some countries’ NECPs are not addressed, growth in wind energy could be held back.
“If governments fully implement their NECPs, Europe will have more than twice as much wind energy capacity by 2030,” said WindEurope, “and there will be 50% more jobs in wind by 2030 – 450,000.” Wind will provide 30% of Europe’s electricity consumption, up from 15% today. And it will be contributing €50Bn to Europe’s GDP.
“But as they stand, NECPs will struggle to deliver this,” WindEurope stated. “They provide insufficient visibility on when and how governments will auction new windfarms. And they fail to simplify the process for permitting for wind, and if this does not improve, the industry could actually lose jobs.
“Investing in wind energy will help Europe’s recovery. Each new turbine installed in Europe generates on average €10M in economic activity. This is spread across the 248 factories in Europe that produce turbines and components – and all involved in planning, construction, logistics and R&D. Expanding wind energy will also help Europe strengthen its global leadership in wind. Five of the world’s top 10 turbine manufacturers are European – and collectively they have a 42% global market share.”
WindEurope chief executive Giles Dickson said, “Investing in wind will help Europe reset its economy. There is a pipeline of new projects waiting to start and 150,000 new jobs could be created, provided governments implement their plans properly. But if they do not implement them properly, and if they do not simplify the permitting arrangements for new windfarms, then we will lose jobs.”
Speaking during the webinar, WindEurope chairman and MHI Vestas chief executive Philippe Kavafyan said, “There is not enough visibility of auctions. We need to know more about the volumes that will be deployed and we need to get permitting right and simplify permitting procedures.”
Mr Kavafyan also highlighted the need to find the right financing mechanisms for wind power projects. “We need to create certainty for investors, and contracts for difference (CfDs) are the right way to do that. CfDs provide certainty and they reduce costs overall.”
Mr Kavafyan also highlighted Europe’s need to focus attention on renewable hydrogen and wind power’s role – particularly that of offshore wind – in the production of renewable hydrogen, and on the need for climate-proof infrastructure, including the accelerated deployment of transmission systems and meshed grids.
Mr Samsom said it was important that Europe should overhaul state aid regulations with respect to energy if the full potential of wind energy is to be realised and EU goals achieved.
He said it was also important to identify where the gaps are in some countries’ NECPs, but concluded “We cannot stick to 27 national energy plans. Europe needs to define a single policy.”
See the report here.
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