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The outlook for wind in Europe

Political frameworks and technological developments are key to wind energy success in Europe. This was the main message in a wide-ranging, high-level panel discussion at the WindEurope Conference & Exhibition this morning in Amsterdam.

The session, which addressed the outlook for wind in Europe and future business models, was chaired by Dagmara Koska, Member of Cabinet of Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič, European Commission.

The panelists for the session included Gerassimos Thomas Deputy Director General for Energy, European Commission, Luca Bettonte, CEO, ERG Spa, Georgios Papadimitriou, Head Renewable Energies for Rest of Europe and North Africa, ENEL Green Power, João Manso Neto, CEO, EDPR Pete McCabe, President and CEO Onshore Wind, GE Renewable Energy, and Ditlev Engel CEO, DNV GL – Energy

According to the panelists, wind energy success in Europe will depend on political frameworks and technological developments. Electricity demand might stand still and even decrease over the next decades, due to national and European energy efficiency measures. Electrification is thus a key element to keeping the demand high and represents a beneficial solution in terms of decarbonisation of the transport and heating sectors.

Storage is also a key component of the energy transition. The cost of batteries is rapidly decreasing and this technology can support wind energy deployment by providing grid services and smoothening wind energy variations over time. Additional flexibility coming from demand side management and electric vehicles – and smart heating systems – can further contribute to the integration of wind power in the grid.

For the industry to continue its trends of growth and cost reduction, however, Europe needs additional capacity volumes – including repowering – and visibility in the medium-to-long term. And both national and European political and legislative frameworks will continue to play a fundamental role in supporting this shift towards a greener economy. Regional cooperation plays a key role, too, especially given the fact that renewable energy targets are defined as EU-wide and there are no longer any national binding targets in place.

Market design rules must be fit for renewables and, in particular, for wind energy. The panelists stated that there must be a level playing field that enforces the polluter-pays principle and ensures that costs related to externalities can be carried by the polluters. Secondly, we need solid revenue stabilization mechanisms and we need to attribute them in a competitive way to make sure we support further cost reductions. PPAs are an alternative and growing means of stabilizing revenues, but in order to unleash their full potential in Europe, regulatory barriers must be removed.