Wind energy has sailed through stormy waters when it comes to politics in recent years. Since 2009, European governments across the continent have been chopping and changing their support schemes for renewable energies, wind power included, amid an enduring economic crisis. But what has the impact on wind energy been?
Uncertainty has impacted investment plans, new orders and investment decisions already taken in wind energy markets across Europe. But, the crisis has also affected the power sector as a whole, reducing overall demand for power. In fact the European Commission now expects power demand in 2020 to be 11% lower than it did in 2009.
Fortunately the waters are now starting to calm and the wind power sector is seeing a degree of regulatory stability return. But the storm slowed the expected installation rates of the sector, leading EWEA to revise its capacity targets for 2020.
EWEA’s new central 2020 scenario envisages 192 GW of wind energy – an increase of 64% compared to today. While this scenario is a reduction on the previous estimate of 230 GW, it will not necessarily undermine the EU’s 20% renewable energy by 2020 target. The 20% target is a consumption target, and given that power demand has fallen, the target will be met with fewer installed GWs of wind power. 192 GW of wind energy is predicted to meet 14.9% of the EU’s electricity consumption in 2020, slightly down from 15.7% previously envisaged.
Meanwhile, a considerable €124 billion in wind farm investments across the EU is expected by 2020, creating 100,000 additional jobs by 2020.
And yet, there is room for greater expectations: The EU is poised to take a decision on the proposed climate and energy package this autumn which should include a target for renewable energy by 2030. With an ambitious agreement, installations could be higher in markets including Germany, France, Italy and the UK, while markets that came to a virtual stand-still in 2013, such as Spain, could show signs of growth. Offshore, Belgium, Ireland, the UK and Germany, could also show extra growth.
Will Europe’s leaders show the ambition to agree to a strong EU climate and energy package that will propel wind energy confidently ahead? Are we are seeing a durable end to the political instability that has surrounded wind energy in recent years?
With its staunch commitment to wind energy and calls for an ambitious 2030 renewables target, Portugal represented an ideal European location for EWEA to host its annual press trip in 2014.
We invited journalists from across Europe to showcase the country’s renewables industry and push home the case for wind energy in member states.
EWEA, in partnership with our leading members and the Portuguese national association, planned and coordinated a bespoke and exclusive schedule, giving the nine participating reporters a unique and varied insight into Portugal’s drive for wind energy.
Highlights of the trip included a dinner, speech and Q&A with Portugal’s Energy and Environment Minister Jorge Moreira Da Silva; a visit to an EDPR control centre in the heart of Porto; presentations and a tour of an Enercon rotor blade factor in northern Portugal; a dinner and speech from APREN President Antonio Sa Da Costa and, finally, a boat trip to visit Principle Power’s offshore floating wind turbine in the Atlantic Ocean.
Throughout the two-day event, journalists enjoyed in-depth and informative discussions with representatives from EWEA’s lead sponsors to ensure they received the full picture of Portugal’s burgeoning renewables industry.
This resulted in significant, and above all positive, coverage of Europe’s wind industry in the international press in Demark, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, United Kingdom, Italy and Poland.
To date, twenty articles have been published.
EU officials, parliamentarians, high level wind industry professionals, as well as many representatives of renewable energies in Europe lent a buzz to the EU quarter last week at the EWEA summer reception. Europe’s energy movers and shakers congregated at 80 rue d’Arlon to discuss the continent’s energy future over a cocktail, fine cuisine and lively music.
Philippe Lamberts MEP, the newly elected co-chairman of the Greens group in the European Parliament, opened the event with a moving speech on Europe’s future. Many Europeans see changing energy has something that we’ll tackle once the economic crisis is over, but an energy revolution now is necessary for the climate and a necessary strategy for energy independence, he stated.
Lamberts said that today we are part of a continent that is looking backwards and not forwards towards finding the solutions that will lead to a sustainable future. The economic crisis has increased distrust; Europe is a continent that is “afraid of itself,” he said, adding that the ambitious climate and energy package agreed by EU leaders in 2007 would not have got a majority in today’s European Council and Parliament.
We must recognise that “every cent we put in yesterday’s industry we cannot put towards tomorrow’s industry, an industry that is already delivering results today,” he said.
EWEA President Andrew Garrad said that at a time when we are all concerned about security of energy supply, in wind power we have a good answer: “European wind blowing over European land, creating European electricity and European jobs in an industry based in the EU in which the EU is a world leader – that’s why we want an EU target of 30% renewable energy by 2030,” he said.
EWEA organises a number of successful high level networking events and political debates on topics relating to energy and climate change. Find out about the organisation’s lively debate on subsidies to the energy sector, and future events.
Thomas Becker would buy subscriptions to two more daily newspapers, Lasma Livzeniece would donate to animal shelters in Latvia, and Jason Bickley would treat himself to a slice of lemon meringue pie – what would you do if you knew you had €2 extra a day to spend?
Where does this €2 a day – or €730 a year – per European come from? It’s the amount each of us spends on importing fossil fuels into our energy-dependent continent. This money could be better spent!
In the context of Global Wind Day – the day for discovering the power of wind on 15 June – EWEA has launched a campaign “my 2 Euros” asking YOU what you’d rather do with the money governments spend on importing dirty fossil fuels.
Join our campaign to reduce energy dependence by using Instagram, Facebook or Twitter to tell us what YOU would rather do with €2 a day* – or €730 a year! – using the hashtags #my2euros and #GlobalWindDay. Your answers will appear on the campaign page www.globalwindday.org/my2euros. The person who gives us the most creative response will be offered the chance to be interviewed for this blog.
Wind is all around us – wind energy does not have to be imported, it is part of the solution to energy dependency!
From an art exhibition in a wind turbine in Estonia to wind energy seminars in Tehran, Global Wind Day 2014 will see many different events themed around the discovery of wind power around the world. Find out more: www.globalwindday.org