In Europe we are installing more wind power capacity than any other form of energy and this source will help us achieve 100% renewable energy production by 2050.
Currently only five percent of Europe’s electricity comes from wind but in the past two years 40% of all new electricity generating capacity in Europe has come from wind turbines so by 2020 the figure will be 15% of all electricity will be from wind power.
A combination of government policies, entrepreneurial vision, and public support has enabled wind to become Europe’s leading form of green energy. Solar and other forms of green energy have also benefitted from the renewables drive.
The economic benefits of this move towards wind power can also be seen in the employment figures, nearly 200,000 people work in the European wind power sector and by 2020 it is estimated that 450,000 Europeans will have jobs in this industry. What is important though is that Europe retains its high quality manufacturing edge and continues to develop and deploy new wind energy technology which it can then export to the rest of the world.
Interestingly more than 75% of the wind power installations last few years were in five countries: Spain, Germany, Italy, France, and the UK. The other members of the EU have the potential to install wind power but so far have not contributed to the EU total. This will have to change because in the next 10 to 15 years we will need to install new capacity equal to about 50 percent of currently installed capacity – ambitious targets and at what cost to the environment in terms of visual impact, soil moisture content of wind farm sites and the energy consumed to manufacture and
transport the materials used to build a wind turbine. These are all outweighed by the perceived benefits.
So the targets of about 230 gigawatts of wind energy by the end of 2020 are achievable when you consider more than 10 gigawatts was installed in 2009 and if we do what we’ve been doing over the last two years in terms of new wind farms, then 15% of our electricity will come from wind energy by 2020.
If wind power is to make a considerable contribution towards European electricity by 2020 then some fundamental changes to our grids – both onshore and offshore – a ‘supergrid’ is required. In addition there is also a need to replace existing power plants that are getting old, to meet the expected increases in demand projected for the future. And because we need to invest in new power plants this could be a great opportunity
to make a real change in the way we supply our energy towards renewables.
Creating an internal [European] market for electricity should give consumers the most affordable electricity, electricity at the lowest cost but this will only come about with the right infrastructure. The infrastructure is the absolute key to making wind power work. Changing the electricity grid and power plants to accommodate 100% renewable electricity is an investment in our future. If our politicians get behind wind power, and they should bearing in mind onshore wind is the cheapest of the new renewables, then there will be plenty more wind farms throughout the EU to achieve the 2050targets.