EU might overestimate wind power roll-out needed for decarbonisation – WindEurope

Increasingly efficient wind turbines could mean the EU is overestimating the scale of the wind power roll-out needed to meet the bloc's decarbonisation targets, according to industry body WindEurope.

Wind turbines in Brandenburg, Germany (pic credit: Sven Hagolani/Getty Images)
Wind turbines in Brandenburg, Germany (pic credit: Sven Hagolani/Getty Images)

The industry body reported that EU calculations on how much wind power capacity was needed to hit the bloc’s goal of generating 45% of the bloc’s energy demands from renewable sources by 2030 were based on previous models that could now be reassessed amid improvements in wind turbine technology. 

WindEurope pointed out that the RepowerEU programme predicted that member states would need to reach 510GW of wind capacity by 2030 to hit decarbonisation goals. 

However, the industry group argued that the EC estimates behind that figure did not take into account the improved capacity and efficiency of wind turbines now being installed. These factors would suggest a lower capacity of 440GW would be enough to hit decarbonisation targets, WindEurope argued.

It added that the EC’s figures assumed average capacity factors of 27% for onshore and 35% for offshore. 

However, during an online presentation on 7 March, WindEurope 's director of advocacy and messaging Viktoriya Kerelska said that current capacity factors were now higher — standing at 35% for onshore turbines and 45-50% for offshore turbines. 

Consequently, less wind capacity would need to be added by 2030 to meet the goal of generating 45% of its energy from renewable sources. 

“We estimate that we need less capacity to produce the same amount of energy that's required in the repower EU action plan. We think we need 440GW by 2030,” she said. 

It pointed out, however, that even factoring in improved sizes and efficiencies of the latest wind turbines implied a mammoth roll-out of new wind farms in Europe in the years ahead. 

Meeting the RepowerEU targets means installing an average of 31GW of new wind energy every year between now and the end of the decade, WindEurope said. Last year, 16.7GW was installed, according to WindEurope figures. 

WindEurope also estimates that the lower figure of 20GW per year will be installed over the next five years, necessitating large increases in the final years of the decade to hit the RepowerEU target. 

“By the end of the decade, for the last three years, we're looking at around about 44GW a year that's going to be needed to be installed in 2029 or 2030. So now it's really the time to invest in the supply chain, and make sure that we can deliver these significantly high numbers,” Kerelska added.

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