Wind energy today | WindEurope
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Wind energy today

Wind delivers the energy society wants

  1. European citizens and businesses want reliable, affordable and clean energy.
  2. They also want faster, deeper and more inclusive action on climate change. This requires the rapid transformation of our energy system.
  3. Governments want to deliver this for their citizens and businesses. They also want to attract investments, make their industry more competitive and drive economic recovery.
  4. The EU is committed to climate neutrality by 2050. The EU Green Deal will deliver this. The EU also sees the Green Deal as the main driver of economic recovery.
  5. Onshore and offshore wind are among the cheapest forms of new power generation across Europe. They help minimise power bills.
  6. Wind is an increasingly stable form of power supply. New onshore wind farms now operate at up to 40% capacity factors and new offshore wind farms at up to 60%.
  7. Advances in technology make it easier to manage energy systems with large shares of wind energy. Wind turbines are increasingly flexible: able to operate at lower wind speeds and to be more aligned with energy demand. And they help control frequency and voltage in the grid.
  8. Digitalisation optimises wind energy output and is improving the design of turbines and wind farms. It’s making it easier to maintain equipment and extend its lifetime.
  9. Wind is a local energy resource. It reduces Europe’s energy imports and exposure to volatile fossil fuel prices. Wind energy emits zero carbon, SOx, NOx or PM.  Wind energy projects produce ~95% less CO2 than electricity from gas and ~98% less CO2 than electricity from coal. They consume hardly any water.  The CO2 footprint is negligible: a turbine pays off its lifecycle emissions in 6-9 months of operation.
  10. The wind industry is constantly improving the materials it uses. 85-90% of a turbine is recyclable. We are working towards full circularity in the wind supply chain and to limit biodiversity impacts. We are committed to engaging with local communities and to happy coexistence with other economic and societal interests, including fishing and aviation and by working with environmental NGOs.

Wind gives Europeans wider social and economic benefits

  1. Wind is a strategic industry for Europe.  It is 300,000 quality jobs contributes €37bn to EU GDP. Each new turbine generates on average €10m economic activity. Its 248 factories are all over Europe including in economically-deprived regions. Wind is a major European exporter: half the world’s wind power comes from turbines made by European companies.
  2. Wind farms bring economic benefits, e.g. €5bn in taxes, to the places they’re located. They provide jobs and investments in local often rural communities.  Collective ownership models help share revenues locally and give citizens a stake in their energy supply.
  3. With its European supply chain and local benefits wind helps deliver an inclusive and just energy transition. 70-80% of Europeans support wind energy, even more among those who live near wind farms. The industry is committed to help re-skill those who’ve worked in fossil fuels. 
  4. Wind is helping to decarbonise industry. Heavy industry used to worry about the costs of wind and its impact on energy systems. Now they want wind.  Companies in chemicals, steel, ICT, aluminium, transport, pharma and food/drink are now sourcing power directly from wind farms on long-term supply agreements.

Wind will be the backbone of Europe’s energy system

  1. Wind now meets 16% of Europe’s electricity demand and much more in many countries: Denmark 48%; Ireland 38%; Germany 27%; Portugal 24%; Spain 22%. The IEA expects wind to be the no. 1 of power in Europe by 2027.
  2. The EU Commission see wind being half of Europe’s electricity by 2050, with wind energy capacity rising from 220 GW today to up to 1,300 GW. That entails a 25x increase in offshore wind in the EU. But most of the GW capacity increase will come from onshore wind.
  3. Europe needs to accelerate the build-out of wind to deliver the Green Deal. The EU is set to build 15 GW a year of new capacity over 2021-25. But it needs 18 GW a year to meet its current 32% renewable energy target for 2030 – and 27 GW a year to meet the higher renewables target that’s coming with the new 55% climate target.
  4. The further expansion of wind energy will be driven by new wind farms on new sites. But it also requires significant investment in the repowering and lifetime extension of existing wind farms. Nearly half of Europe’s existing wind farms will reach the end of their normal life by 2030.
  5. The expansion of wind requires (a) progress on electrification; (b) a competitive supply chain; (c) the right policies, notably on planning and permitting; and (d) the right energy markets and grids.

Electrification

  1. Electricity is less than a quarter of Europe’s energy mix today. The EU want it to be at least one half by 2050.  60% electrification would also be realistic and affordable.
  2. Renewables-based electrification of transport, buildings and industrial processes will drive their decarbonisation, boost energy efficiency and unlock the benefits of “sector integration” e.g. using EV batteries as storage;
  3. Key priorities are: incentivising uptake of EVs and accelerating deployment of charging infrastructure; investing in heat-pumps and the electrification of district heating; and scaling up renewable hydrogen for those sectors that cannot be electrified directly.  

A competitive supply chain

  1. The huge expansion of wind requires a strong manufacturing base. But the European wind energy supply chain is struggling due to increased international competition and sub-optimal policies in many countries.  
  2. The EU now recognises wind energy as a Strategic Value Chain.  Our industry now advises the EU Commission on industrial policy as part of the EU Industrial Forum.
  3. A strong industrial policy for wind means:
    1. market scale: ambitious volumes and long-term visibility including on auctions;
    2. the right trade policies: open markets so we can import key components and materials and export high value-added finished products;
    3. an EU export strategy for renewables that tackles market barriers in third countries and helps us compete with low-cost finance from Asia;
    4. investing in R&D: continuous innovation in today’s technologies and in digitalization, recyclable turbines, system flexibility including wind+ hybrid and grid optimisation; and
    5. proactive workforce development; qualifications have to reflect industry needs and be recognised across borders; and

The right policies

  1. Clearer and simpler rules on the planning and permitting of new and repowered wind farms including minimal restrictions from e.g. distance, tip height and radar rules; simpler administrative procedures; and adequately staffed permitting authorities;
  2. The prospect of stable revenues for those investing in wind: well-designed auctions using 2-way Contracts for Difference or market premiums to minimise financing costs; and the removal of barriers to PPAs;
  3. Robust CO2 prices driven by a reformed ETS and relevant national or regional measures notably in the non-ETS sector;
  4. Recovery funding and finance targeting the infrastructure needed for the expansion of renewables such as electricity grids, ports and renewable hydrogen.

The right energy markets and grids:

  1. The expansion, modernisation and digitalisation of transmission and distribution networks: onshore and offshore; in-country and across borders. Existing grid capacity needs to be fully optimised. Short-term bottlenecks need to be addressed to minimise curtailment;
  2. More dynamic and larger intraday markets, common balancing platforms and products to cover wider trading areas;
  3. Full and equal access for renewables to ancillary services markets. Rewards for flexibility including demand response, storage, inertia and fast frequency response;
  4. The phase-out of inefficient, carbon intensive and inflexible power generation capacity.

If all this happens, wind will become the cornerstone of the European Green Deal and of an efficient, decarbonised and resilient energy system setting the path for the global energy transition that European citizens and businesses want.

Electric City 2021