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News in Brief, BB200706

Reaching the 20% target


Wind power could be generating up to 16% of Europe’s electricity by 2020, delegates heard at the opening of the European Wind Energy Conference in Milan. “Wind energy will be a main contributor to achieving the target for 20% of the European Union’s overall energy supply to come from renewable sources by 2020,” said Arthouros Zervos, President of the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA).

A historic agreement was made on 9 March 2007, when the European Union agreed its 20% by 2020 target and it changed the whole logic of renewables legislation. According to EWEA Chief Executive Christian Kjaer, we have moved from indicative to binding targets, but we still have to ensure both national targets and compliance.

Europe already gets more than 3% of its electricity from wind, produced by 50,000 megawatts (MW) of installed capacity. 2006 was a record year, with over 7,500 MW of new wind farms constructed. By 2020, 180,000 MW could be operating.

Wind energy will not only have a positive impact on energy security and environmental protection, it will also contribute to:
- more predictable energy prices;
- sustainable import bills; and
- a reduction in pollution levels (370 million tonnes of CO2 avoidance representing 36% of the target agreed in March by the Heads of State).

For this to happen, Europe needs stable political frameworks, upgrades to the existing power infrastructure, steps towards continued cost reductions, increased offshore wind production and intensified research, innovation and technological progress.

Deputy Director General of the European Commission, Fabrizio Barbaso, claimed that a new legal framework for renewable energy will be proposed in the autumn, after having negotiated national plans with every Member State. “We want national targets per sector and we want the efforts and the opportunities to be shared between the 27 countries. The Commission will then monitor very closely the progress made by every country.”

“There is no doubt that renewable energy and energy efficiency will be the cornerstones of future EU energy policy,” he added, “and wind energy is one of its main components.” He also confirmed that there would be no stepping back from the current level of renewable energy development, as ensured by the existing directive. He expected a level of 19% renewable electricity to be reached by 2010, not far below the 21% directive target.

The Commission is still working on the individual targets for Member States. For this task, they are using several models with different assumptions. Negotiations will take place in the coming months. At present, the Commission is asking Member States to think about how to achieve the target and to come up with concrete proposals as soon as possible.

The progress report on the support mechanism for RES-e is likely to be published around the same time as the new directive, which the Commission is expected to launch this autumn.


• 2020: approximately 35% renewable electricity is needed to reach the 20% target for renewable energy
• Today: 15% including 10% large hydro and 3% wind
• Excluding large hydro, the share of renewable electricity must increase from 5% to approximately 25% in 14 years, depending on power demands
• From 3% (50 GW) to 13-16% (180 GW) wind power in 2020 (depending on 2020 demand)