History of Europe’s wind industry

1982

A group of European agricultural machinery manufacturers fly to California

A group of European agricultural machinery manufacturers fly to California to assess the market for producing wind turbines. 20-30 turbines are shipped and installed from Europe to California by the end of the year

EWEA is formed in September, in Stockholm.

EWEA is formed in September, in Stockholm. It has no staff or budget of its own, and represents individuals rather than organisations. Gijsbrecht “George” Piepers is elected as Chairman

One of the first wind turbines

One of the first wind turbines – a 22 kw Bonus model, 1982

Denmark’s Development Program for Renewable Energy is established

Denmark’s Development Program for Renewable Energy (the UVE program) is established

The first European wind farm

The first European wind farm (5 x 20 kW turbines) opens on Greek island of Kythnos

Wind turbine size reaches 55 kW

Wind turbine size reaches 55 kW

1983

Growian’s 3 MW two-bladed turbine

Growian’s 3 MW two-bladed turbine with 100 metre rotor diameter erected in Germany. It is abandoned in 1988

Europe exports 350 turbines

Europe exports 350 turbines, with a total capacity of 20 MW, to California

In 1983 EWEA joins

In 1983 EWEA joins the then British Wind Energy Association (BWEA) in publishing Wind Directions that started in 1977

1984

In Denmark, vestas

In Denmark, Vestas starts serial production of a 75 kW three-bladed turbine

Enercon develops its first turbine

Enercon develops its first turbine, the E-15/16 (55 kW)

First official European wind energy conference (“EWEC”)

First official European wind energy conference (“EWEC”) held in Hamburg

European Wind Energy Association logo, 1984

European Wind Energy Association logo, 1984

1985

The EU announces funding for 97 demonstration

The EU announces funding for 97 demonstration projects and trials up to 1989

West German firm, WindkraftZentrale

West German firm, WindkraftZentrale, begins exporting wind turbines

1986

The Dutch government sets up a financin

The Dutch government sets up a financing programme the ‘Integraal Programma Windenergie’ (IPW) – for the wind turbine industry in the Netherlands

1987

Vestas decides to concentrate exclusively on wind energy

Vestas decides to concentrate exclusively on wind energy

1988

Germany launches 100 MW wind energy

Germany launches 100 MW wind energy support programme

The UK announces plans for its first wind farm

The UK announces plans for its first wind farm

1989

Fifteen single-bladed MBB

Fifteen single-bladed MBB (Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm) turbines go up in Germany. They are eventually dismantled in 1992

Danish Bonus company begins series production

Danish Bonus company begins series production of a 450 kW three-bladed machine with 35 metre rotor

1990

Danish government sets target for 800-1,350 MW

Danish government sets target for 800-1,350 MW of wind energy by the year 2000

Europe’s largest wind farm installed in Jutland

Europe’s largest wind farm installed in Jutland, Denmark (42 x Nordtank 300 kW turbines)

1991

Built in 1991, Vindeby in Denmark was the world’s first offshore wind farm

Built in 1991, Vindeby in Denmark was the world’s first offshore wind farm

EWEA publishes action plan for European wind energy development

EWEA publishes action plan for European wind energy development, showing potential for Installed capacity of: 

BY 2000

BY 2010

BY 2005

BY 2030

First offshore wind park constructed

First offshore wind park constructed at Vindeby off the coast of Denmark with eleven 450 kW turbines

First UK wind farm opens at Delabole

First UK wind farm opens at Delabole in Cornwall, with ten 400 kW wind turbines

Ten 30 kW wind turbines from German Aeroman

Ten 30 kW wind turbines from German Aeroman are installed on Sijiao island off the Shanghai coast of China

Germany introduces feed-in tariff law

Germany introduces feed-in tariff law for renewable energy (Einspeisegesetz) with payment to producers of 90% of retail electricity price per kilowatt hour.

1992

First Spanish wind farms open at Tarifa in Andalucia

First Spanish wind farms open at Tarifa in Andalusia; National Energy Plan envisages up to 200 MW of wind capacity by 2000

United Nations Conference on Environment

United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (“Earth Summit”) in Rio de Janeiro establishes global principles for sustainable development and environmental protection

1993

Enercon builds first E-40 direct drive (gearless) turbine

Enercon builds first E-40 direct drive (gearless) turbine

Blades about to be put on an Enercon E40 wind turbine in 1993

Blades about to be put on an Enercon E40 wind turbine in 1993

British Board of Trade announces new government

British Board of Trade announces new government target for wind energy of 3,500 MW of installed capacity

1994

France installs its first wind farm in the Tramont

France installs its first wind farm in the Tramonte wind corridor of the western Mediterranean using four Vestas 500 kW turbines

Spanish company Gamesa starts joint venture

Spanish company Gamesa starts joint venture with Vestas to manufacture wind turbines in Spain

1995

Europe’s wind capacity overtakes that of the US

Europe’s wind capacity overtakes that of the US

Construction of foundations for an offshore wind farm in Denmark, 1995

Construction of foundations for an offshore wind farm in Denmark, 1995

Danish manufacturer Nordex

Danish manufacturer Nordex erects prototype of 1.5 MW turbine in Denmark. Vestas and German company Tacke soon follow suit

European Commission publishes Green Paper

European Commission publishes Green Paper on energy policy, with commitment to increase contribution from renewables

1996

France launches a tender programme

France launches a tender programme with a target for 500 MW by 2005: “Eole 2005“

The Iranian government

The Iranian government—the world’s fifth largest oil producer—orders its first wind farm, comprising 300 kW Nordtank turbines

1997

The Kyoto Protocol is agreed

The Kyoto Protocol is agreed in Japan, with a target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 5% of their 1990 level by 2012

1997: EWEA’s new target

EWEA’s new target for installed capacity in Europe:

BY 2000

BY 2010

 

BY 2030

An EU White Paper sets non-binding

An EU White Paper sets non-binding goal to double Europe’s share of renewable energy from 6% to 12% (14 to 22% of electricity supply) by 2010

1998

World wind capacity moves past 10,000 MW

World wind capacity moves past 10,000 MW

Enercon celebrates erection

Enercon celebrates erection of the company’s 1,000th E-40 turbine

Vestas floated as a public company

Vestas floated as a public company on the Copenhagen stock exchange

1999

EWEA, Greenpeace and the Danish Forum for Energy

EWEA, Greenpeace and the Danish Forum for Energy and Development publish the Windforce 10 report, showing how wind could generate 10% of global electricity by 2020

EWEA secretariat moves from London to new offices in Brussels

EWEA secretariat moves from London to new offices in Brussels

2000

First large-scale offshore wind farm

First large-scale offshore wind farm, Middelgrunden, is erected off Copenhagen. 8,500 shareholders in Danish cooperative share 50% ownership of the 20 Bonus 2 MW turbines

Middelgrunden wind farm

Middelgrunden wind farm

New German Renewable Electricity Law

New German Renewable Electricity Law continues support for wind energy through fixed payments per kWh of output over 20 years

2001

European Directive on Electricity from Renewabl

European Directive on Electricity from Renewable Sources sets national indicative targets for each EU member state with an overall goal of 22% by 2010

France introduces fixed tariff support

France introduces fixed tariff support system linked to target for 10,000 MW of wind capacity by 2010

UK opts for Renewables Obligation

UK opts for Renewables Obligation, with rising quota for renewable energy linked to green certificates

2002

EWEA is represented at the Earth Summit

EWEA is represented at the Earth Summit in Johannesburg that calls for more renewable energy around the world

Alaiz wind farm in Navarra, Spain, 2002

Alaiz wind farm in Navarra, Spain, 2002

Horns Rev offshore wind farm opens

Horns Rev offshore wind farm opens in Danish North Sea (80 x Vestas 2 MW turbines)

Multinational corporation General Electri

Multinational corporation General Electric buys Enron Wind Corp, with both US and European manufacturing bases

2003

Spanish government sets target for 13,000 MW of wind by 2011

Spanish government sets target for 13,000 MW of wind by 2011

Vestas and NEG Micon merge to form

Vestas and NEG Micon merge to form the world’s largest turbine manufacturer, Vestas

2003: EWEA’s new targets

EWEA’s new targets for installed capacity in Europe:

BY 2010

 

BY 2020

According to a report commissioned

According to a report commissioned by the British government, global offshore wind power would increase from around 170 MW in 2003 to reach almost 11 GW by 2007

The UK opens its first offshore wind farm

The UK opens its first offshore wind farm, North Hoyle, with 60 MW of capacity

2004

Siemens buys Bonus Energy of Denmark

Siemens buys Bonus Energy of Denmark, the fifth largest wind turbine manufacturer, and joins the wind energy business

German turbine manufacturer REpower installs prototype 5 MW turbine

German turbine manufacturer REpower installs prototype 5 MW turbine

Danish blade manufacturer LM

Danish blade manufacturer LM Glasfiber produces its longest blade yet – 61.5 metres in length

2005

Global Wind Energy Council

Global Wind Energy Council formed with members from more than 50 countries

Installation of a 3.75 MW Siemens turbine, 2005

Installation of a 3.75 MW Siemens turbine, 2005

US government extends the Production Tax

US government extends the Production Tax Credit incentive to the end of 2007, encouraging new wind industry boom

China sets target for 30 GW of wind power by 2020

China sets target for 30 GW of wind power by 2020

2006

US wind power capacity leaps above 10 GW

US wind power capacity leaps above 10 GW

France sets goal to develop more than twice

France sets goal to develop more than twice as much new wind power as new nuclear and coal over the next ten years

2006: EWEA’s new target for installed

EWEA’s new target for installed capacity in Europe:

BY 2030

 

A wind turbine supply agreement commits Spanish

A wind turbine supply agreement commits Spanish Iberdrola to buy 2,700 MW, valued at €2.3 billion, from manufacturer Gamesa

European Technology Platform

European Technology Platform for Wind Energy is launched. It aims to direct funding towards research priorities up to 2030

2007

Wind overtakes fuel oil

Wind overtakes fuel oil as the 5th largest form of power generation capacity

The world’s largest wind turbine to date, the 7 MW Enercon E-126, is installed in Emden, Germany, 2007

The world’s largest wind turbine to date, the 7 MW Enercon E-126, is installed in Emden, Germany, 2007

EU adopts new binding target for 20%

EU adopts new binding target for 20% renewables in energy supply by 2020

Eurobarometer survey shows that 71%

Eurobarometer survey shows that 71% of EU citizens are “very positive” about the use of wind power in their country

2008

Italy passes a Financial Act

Italy passes a Financial Act including a green certificate scheme for renewable energy

Nine zones are identified around Britain’s

Nine zones are identified around Britain’s coast for construction of 25 GW of wind farms in the third round of government sponsored offshore development

Iberdrola Renovables and Gamesa

Iberdrola Renovables and Gamesa sign an agreement to develop and manage some wind projects together, and to supply 4.5 GW of turbines

2009

Wind power provides 2% of worldwide electricity

Wind power provides 2% of worldwide electricity

Statoil’s Hywind floating turbine, Norway, 2009

Statoil’s Hywind floating turbine, Norway, 2009

Europe accounts for 48%

Europe accounts for 48% of the world’s wind energy capacity

The EU’s 2009 Renewable Energy

The EU’s 2009 Renewable Energy Directive is agreed, committing Europe to getting 20% of its energy from renewables by 2020

The European Parliament’s energy

The European Parliament’s energy committee agrees to dedicate €565 million to offshore wind projects as part of the EU Economic Recovery Plan

world’s first full-scale floating wind turbine starts operations

September: Hywind (2.3 MW), the world’s first full-scale floating wind turbine starts operations in the North Sea

2010

Ten North Seas Countries

Ten North Seas Countries agree to work together to develop an offshore electricity grid

The European Commission allocates over €902

The European Commission allocates over €902 million to electricity interconnection projects as part of its broader European Economic Recovery Plan

The British government announces

The British government announces the go-ahead for offshore wind farm development areas with a capacity ten times greater than Europe’s existing European offshore wind energy capacity

Denmark’s wind power share of electricity reaches over 20%

Denmark’s wind power share of electricity reaches over 20%

2011

In the wake of the Fukushima nuclear

In the wake of the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster, Germany announces plans to shut down all nuclear plants by 2022 as well as double the country’s share of renewable energies, including wind energy

The EU Energy Roadmap 2050

The EU Energy Roadmap 2050 is launched, binding renewable energy targets for 2030 could be in place by 2014

Principle Power’s WindFloat Prototype, Portugal, 2011

Principle Power’s WindFloat Prototype, Portugal, 2011

2011: EWEA’s new targets

EWEA’s new targets for installed capacity in Europe

BY 2020

 

BY 2030

The European Parliament votes

The European Parliament votes to create a dedicated budget line for wind energy research and development for the first time

WindFloat (2 MW), the world’s second

WindFloat (2 MW), the world’s second floating offshore multi-megawatt wind turbine, starts generation 5km off the coast of Portugal. It was the first to be deployed without the use of any offshore heavy lift vessels

2012

The European Commission launches its Renewable Energy Strategy

The European Commission launches its Renewable Energy Strategy

Alstom’s 6 MW Haliade

Alstom’s 6 MW Haliade begins generating electricity during certification testing

The world’s largest offshore wind farm

The world’s largest offshore wind farm opens off the coast of Cumbria, England. It has a capacity of 367 MW

EU reaches 100 GW wind power milestone

EU reaches 100 GW wind power milestone

2013

Wind overtakes nuclear

Wind overtakes nuclear as the 4th largest form of power generation capacity

MEPs offer lifeline

MEPs offer lifeline to the ETS by voting in favour of backloading

2014

Wind energy industry installs more new capacity than gas and coal combined

Wind energy industry installs more new capacity than gas and coal combined

European Commission 2030

October: EU heads of state and government set renewables target of 27%

Onshore wind cheaper than coal

Onshore wind cheaper than coal, gas and nuclear, according to European Commission report

2015

February: European Commission launches plan for the ‘Energy Union’

February: European Commission launches plan for the ‘Energy Union’

2015: EWEA’s new target

EWEA’s new targets for installed capacity in Europe:

BY 2020 LOW

BY 2020 CENTRAL

BY 2020 HIGH

BY 2030 LOW

BY 2030 CENTRAL

BY 2030 HIGH

IKEA announces a €1 billion

IKEA announces a €1 billion commitment to wind, solar and climate action. Other companies also take to wind energy to power their businesses including BMW, General Motors, Nissan, Honda, CEMEX, Heineken, LEGO, IKEA, Facebook, Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Apple

December: Paris climate deal

December: Paris climate deal shows energy transition commitment towards wind power and more than 70 non-EU countries highlight wind energy in their national climate plans

2016

February: wake up call for policymakers

February: wake up call for policymakers as China overtakes EU on cumulative wind installations

Agios Georgios island

Agios Georgios island, Greece has the only onshore wind farm with offshore characteristics: submarine cables connect it to Athens’ electrical grid. Photo Marios Zangas, 2016

July: Dutch tender brings offshore wind

July: Dutch tender brings offshore wind on a par with conventional power generation as DONG Energy surprises the industry with its record-low bid of €72.7/MWh for the Borssele I and II wind farms

November: Vattenfall amazes the market

November: Vattenfall amazes the market with a winning bid of €49.9/MWh for the Danish Kriegers Flak offshore wind project

November: European Commission publishes

November: European Commission publishes a proposal for a revised Renewable Energy Directive to make the EU a global leader in renewable energy and ensure that the target of at least 27% renewables in the final energy consumption in the EU by 2030 is met

June: 10 European countries sign a memorandum

June: 10 European countries sign a memorandum of understanding for regional cooperation in the North Sea to further the deployment of offshore wind energy

2017

Wind generates enough to cover Denmark’s

Wind generates enough to cover Denmark’s entire power demand on 22 February

April: the results of the German offshore tender shock

April: the results of the German offshore tender shock the energy business as EnBW and DONG Energy announce the world’s first subsidy-free offshore wind farms (to be developed by 2025)

May: Spain returns to wind energy with record low prices

May: Spain returns to wind energy with record low prices

Currently the longest wind turbine blade is 88.

Currently the longest wind turbine blade is 88.4 metres, produced for an 8 MW offshore turbine. Photo: LM Wind Power, 2017