Economic benefits of wind
The European wind power industry plays an important role in Europe’s economy, contributing to its gross domestic product (GDP), to job creation and to the development of other economic sectors.
In 2010 the wind energy industry contributed €32.4bn to the EU’s economy, almost 0.3% of the EU’s total GDP. Companies working directly in wind energy contributed €17.6 bn and the activity they created in other sectors of the economy amounted to €14.8 bn.
Figure 1: Direct and indirect impact of wind energy sector in the EU’s economy (constant prices, 2010).
If the industry’s growth forecasts are met, the wind industry is expected to contribute €94.5bn to the European economy (0.59% of total GDP) in 2020, and €173bn (1% of total GDP) in 2030.
The wind energy sector has become a major industrial exporter. The value of exports in 2010 reached €8.8bn. The imports for the same year were in the order of €3.2bn, making the sector a net exporter of €5.7bn worth of products and services. All the subsectors of the wind industry (wind turbine manufacturers and component manufacturers, service providers and developers) contributed to the EU’s exports.
Figure 2: Share of subsectors in wind industry net exports
In times of economic recession, the wind power sector in 2010 employed around 238,000. In the future the number of jobs could increase to 520,000 in 2020 and 794,079 in 2030.
Figure 3: Wind industry direct and indirect employment, actual and 2020 and 2030 forecast.
The wind energy sector also contributes in taxes (€3.59bn in 2010) and avoids fuel costs (€5.71bn in 2010). The contribution of the sector to R&D investments is impressive: over 5% of its turnover is spent in research and development, well above the EU’s objective of 3% of GDP and above real economy-wide figures of around 2%.
Finally the European wind energy sector is a global leader, with 48% of European wind energy companies operating also outside the EU.