Wind energy will lead the process of boosting the electrification of Europe’s economy and is capable of doing so at no additional cost, according to a new report by the European Technology and Innovation Platform on Wind (ETIPWind) and industry association WindEurope.
The “Getting fit for 55 and set for 2050” report estimates that electricity will directly satisfy 57% of energy demand by 2050, and 18% indirectly through green hydrogen and its derivatives, three times the current 25% in total. Wind energy will represent half of the EU’s electricity mix by the same date, according to the report.
Delivering a net-zero system will cost around 10.6% of GDP, the report estimates — the same share of GDP that today’s energy system costs. It will be significantly cheaper in societal terms when the costs of externalities such as air pollution, water consumption and land use are factored in.
The report estimates that the cost of wind energy will continue to decline significantly over the next 30 years thanks to rising turbine sizes and capacity factors, and improvements in the installation and operation of wind farms.
Onshore wind is estimated to have average costs of €33/MWh by 2030, a cost reduction of 28% from today. Offshore wind costs will fall by 44% to €48/MWh and floating offshore wind costs by 65% to €64/MWh over the same period. By 2040, the report expects fixed-bottom and floating offshore wind costs to converge at between €30/MWh and €50/MWh.
“Wind energy will be at the core of the future energy system. It is already the most cost-effective power generation source. With further technology improvements and better permitting procedures wind energy will become the number one source of electricity soon after 2025,” said Bo Svoldgaard, senior vice president for innovation and concepts at Vestas.
According to the report, research will be essential to scale up offshore wind, including floating, and to efficiently repower onshore wind farms while achieving full circularity through the reuse and recycling of turbines.
With renewables estimated to represent 81% of Europe’s electricity by 2050, Europe’s electricity grid needs to be expanded and optimised, according to the report. Grid investments will have to double from the current €40bn a year by 2025, with an additional 85GW of interconnector capacity needed by 2030 on top of the current 50GW.
“The EU must ruthlessly prioritise future-proof technologies if it wants to be climate-neutral by 2050. We’ve less than 30 years to build a net-zero energy system,” said Giles Dickson, WindEurope CEO. “The technologies for direct electrification and renewable hydrogen production are here. Now we need the right regulations to scale them up.”