The European Commission has just published a mid-term review of its European Energy Programme for Recovery which reveals that offshore wind energy is the strongest performer under the scheme. But what is this scheme all about and how exactly is offshore wind the strongest? The EWEA blog talks to Vilma Radvilaite, Regulatory Affairs Advisor at EWEA to find out…
What is the European Energy Programme for Recovery?
Back in 2009, the EU launched a plan to help Europe face-up to the financial crisis and rising concerns about energy security and climate change. Some €4 billion was allocated to the plan – called the European Economic Recovery Plan (EERP) – focusing on projects that were capable of making quick and effective use of significant amount of funding.
Three areas were considered to meet these criteria: offshore wind energy, gas and electricity infrastructure projects and carbon capture and storage (CCS).
How much was allocated to each area?
Electricity and gas infrastructure projects received the largest slice of funding – €2,365 million for 44 projects, followed by CCS – €1,050 million for six projects and lastly offshore wind – €565 million for nine projects.
Why is wind energy the strongest performer?
What’s interesting about these amounts is how quickly money invested actually turns into real projects on the ground. By December 2010 one offshore wind project was already providing electricity to the grid – just over one year after the plan was agreed. That’s pretty fast. The mid-term review also found that another offshore wind energy project had installed foundations last year, and that orders placed for another two offshore wind farm projects had contributed to the development of industrial clusters in innovative technologies in Germany.
Meanwhile, none of the CCS projects were ready by the time of the review.
Wind energy is the strongest performer because it has produced the greatest ‘real’ results relative to the amount of funding it received.
Have any of the projects helped to create jobs?
Yes! The offshore wind projects under the EEPR created a total of 4,000 direct jobs and more than 1,000 more jobs indirectly by the time the review was carried out in May 2011. And that’s with the smallest amount of funding. To compare, CCS projects – which received almost double the amount of funding – have created just 400 jobs. Electricity and gas infrastructure, meanwhile, created 5,000 jobs.
What do the results of the review show?
Offshore wind energy projects are an ideal way to stimulate economic growth and create jobs, as shown by this review. At the same time wind energy cuts carbon emissions and improves Europe’s energy security by creating electricity in Europe and reducing the need for fuel imports.
Investment in wind power is clearly a way to help restore Europe’s economy to health.