National and European policies to better promote wind energy
Second day of the European Wind Energy Conference. This morning's main political session focused on how to promote wind energy through effective and adequate national and European policies and programmes. Representatives from the European institutions and from three major EU countries – the UK, Germany and the host country Italy - highlighted how European programmes and national legal frameworks support the strong development of wind energy within the EU.
2007 marks a historic year for Europe, having set a target of generating 20% of energy from renewable sources by 2020. The potential contribution from wind energy will be significant: up to 16% of EU electricity consumption could come from wind, as Arthouros Zervos, President of the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA), said yesterday at the opening session Conference.
This morning's presentations underlined the crucial role of the European Commission in drafting a new directive for renewables by the end of 2007. Each member state will have to set national objectives, adopt action plans and determine sector-specific targets.
Beatriz Yordi from the European Commission emphasised the need to draw up sector-specific national plans to ensure that the 2020 objectives are achieved. The European Commission estimates that wind energy could provide 12% of the EU's total electricity consumption in 2020. “But for that to happen, national plans are crucial. The Commission will of course take into account differences in terms of potential and costs between the EU countries”, said Yordi. She also pointed out that the development of onshore wind energy is still extremely important: nine countries are currently at a very advanced stage and eleven are lagging behind.
Patrick Lambert, Director of the Intelligent Energy Europe (IEE) Agency underlined the large increase (20%) in funds earmarked by the European Commission to support projects in the field of renewables and energy efficiency. The programmes’ run by the Agency aim to help energy stakeholders leading projects in the field of market expansion, capacity building, institutional change and promotion of renewable energy sources.
Under the IEE programme, the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) coordinates “TRADEWIND”, an important project designed to assess the impact of large wind energy intergration in Europe until 2030, and analyse namely the improvements required for grid connections.
The situation in Great Britain was described by Gordon Edge, Director of economics and market strategy at the British Wind Energy Association, who emphasised the importance of the reform of British legislation which is still under discussion. While awaiting the government's new White Paper, due for publication next week, Edge stressed that the uncertainty caused by the reform has affected the wind development in the UK and should be eliminated as soon as possible. He also confirmed that Great Britain would need further reform of the renewable obligations mechanism to reach the EU 20% target.
The situation in Germany, described by Claudia Grotz, policy advisor at the German Wind Energy Association, is well on track to reach its ambitious objectives. Currently, 5.7% of Germany's electricity comes from wind energy, and 11.7% from renewable energies. Germany plans to install new wind plants with a capacity of 10,000 MW, and to replace old turbines to provide an increase of 15,000 MW by 2020. With regards to offshore wind energy, although it is early days, calculations estimate that Germany's potential is between 20,000 and 25,000 MW by 2030.
Finally, Luciano Pirazzi from ENEA, spoke on behalf of Italy. He emphasised the lack of clear national guidelines leading to confusing rules for many Italian regions wishing to develop wind energy. 2,500 MW are currently operating in Italy. “Italy will start soon negotiations with the Commission. Important national and regional efforts will be needed”, Pirazzi concluded.
These concrete national examples presented at the session, highlighted the main existing barriers to the large development of wind energy in the 27 member states, e.g: lack of national guidelines, heavy administrative procedures or grid access barriers.