Wind energy’s enormous potential needs to be integrated into the EU energy system
The vast contribution wind power can make to Europe’s need for increasing amounts of dependable, local, clean and affordable electricity in the next two decades has once again been praised.
This time the recognition came in a 90 page technical report by the European Environment Agency which found that “the economically competitive wind energy potential still amounts to more than three times projected demand in 2020.” By 2030, the report notes, wind energy potential could provide more than seven times the projected EU electricity demand.
The report, “Europe’s onshore and offshore wind energy potential”, described wind power resources in the EU as being “very considerable”. It also confirmed that wind power can play a major role in meeting the EU’s renewable energy targets in 11 years time.
“Leaving aside some of the environmental, social and economic considerations, Europe’s raw wind potential is huge,” said the report, which cited European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) projections indicating the wind industry will continue rapidly expanding in the next 20 years.
“Turbine technology projections suggest that it may be equivalent to almost 20 times energy demand in 2020,” said the report, adding that high-penetration levels of wind power will require major changes – additional extensions or upgrades -- to the grid system.
“The fact that the competitive potential even in a relatively short time horizon is much bigger that the electricity demand means that the key need for policy makers should be on facilitating the integration of wind energy into the energy system via research and development.”
EWEA is pleased by the EEA report as it methodically underscores the current success of onshore and offshore wind power as well as pointing out its potential for even greater contributions to Europe’s energy needs in the future.
EWEA is also appreciative that the report, which refers to wind power as “a source of clean, affordable energy”, reminds policy makers that the main obstacle stopping the sector from reaching its incredible potential is the antiquated grid system and the related administrative barriers.
Wind power is now a mainstream component of Europe’s energy system. It can help politicians confronted with a stalled economy by creating thousands of new high-technology jobs. It can generate increasing amounts of sustainable, local electricity and thereby reduce the need to import dirty, expensive fuels. It can help our despoiled environment grappling with global warming caused by 150 years of burning fossil fuels.
Wind power is, as the EEA report notes, a big part of our collective future. Policy makers should encourage its development as much as possible.