According to two new reports published by the European wind energy trade body WindEurope, wind energy could provide up to 30% of Europe’s electricity by 2030.
WindEurope published two reports investigating the region’s wind energy outlook — Outlook to 2020 and Scenarios for 2030 — in which it determines that Europe could be looking at an average installation rate of 12.6 GW (gigawatts) worth of wind energy each year between now and 2020 — bringing Europe up to a total of 204 GW worth of wind energy by 2020, making wind energy the region’s largest energy source, surpassing hydro and providing 16.5% of Europe’s electricity demand. However, the report also notes that the lion’s share of this deployment will be centralized in six countries — Germany, UK, France, Spain, Netherlands, and Belgium — leaving Central and Eastern Europe well behind.
WindEurope’s Scenarios for 2030 report outlines three projections — a Low, Central, and High Scenario (shown below). Its Central Scenario — in which the European Union meets its 27% renewable energy target in 2030 and “clear policy commitments on electrification drive demand for renewable power” — predicts that a total of 323 GW worth of wind energy is installed by 2030, more than double the cumulative capacity at the end of 2016 — made up of 253 GW worth of onshore capacity and 70 GW offshore capacity. This would account for the equivalent of 30% of the European Union’s power demand, driven by investments worth €239 billion by 2030 and yielding 569,000 jobs.
But this central scenario is highly reliant upon strong policies being implemented and significant changes being made to the energy system. Specifically, WindEurope calls out the need for greater certainty for long-term revenue stability, significant progress on the integration of variable renewable energy sources into the grid, and clear government policy commitments on electrification.
“Wind energy is now firmly established as the cheapest form of new power generation,” said WindEurope CEO, Giles Dickson. “But the outlook from 2020 is uncertain. The industry needs binding and ambitious National Energy & Climate Action Plans that provide clarity on post-2020 volumes, which will allow cost reductions to continue. This requires a good outcome on the EU Clean Energy Package. With an ambitious European renewables target of at least 35% by 2030, the wind industry could deliver even bigger volumes at competitive cost.”
Reduced onshore wind costs are also important to meeting this Central Scenario, with the authors of the report explaining that “the Central Scenario assumes onshore wind cost reductions continue and that, as a result of governments providing a visible pipeline of projects between 2020 and 2030, the industry’s offshore wind cost reduction objectives to 2025 are met.”
The second report published by WindEurope this week, its Outlook to 2020 report, predicts 2017 will be a record year for wind energy deployment, with 14 GW of wind installed, leading into an average of 12.6 GW per year for the next four years — with offshore wind making up a quarter of installations.
The report also concluded that wind energy capacity is expected to pass 200 GW by 2020, and that with a quarter of the global market over the next four-year period, the EU might very well attract more installations than the United States and India — but, unsurprisingly, less than China.
Most of the new wind energy capacity is expected to be centralized in just six countries, led comfortably by Germany. However, the United Kingdom’s leading sector will be its offshore wind sector, which should account for 5.1 GW (compared to 2.6 GW of onshore wind).
“2020 will mark an important milestone for the European Union as Member States will be tested on their climate change and energy commitments,” the authors of the report wrote. “Wind energy will make a significant contribution to achieving these commitments in the power sector, allowing many Member States to reach their targets in a cost-effective way and to continue their energy system transformation.”