In setting the new targets, EWEA is responding to wind's high growth, which has seen earlier targets outstripped and makes its previous target of 60 GW for 2010 appear unrealistically low. Annual installations have increased at an average rate of almost 40%, giving an installed capacity today of 24,626 MW for the 15 member states of the EU. The high growth has been based mainly on the German and Spanish markets, but Spain is expected to stabilise and Germany to decline (table). Unlike some forecasts, however, EWEA only expects a moderate decline in Germany, stabilising at 2000 MW a year between 2002 and 2010. If all Germany's proposed pilot offshore projects are built, they will account for 9000 MW, over half the targt for the country.
EWEA expects annual wind installations for the whole EU to continue to increase, however, albeit at a lower rate. For 2003, it forecasts a 3.5% increase, slowing to 1.4% by 2010. Wind's share of the 125.3 GW of projected capacity expansion in Europe in the first decade of the century will be 50%, if EWEA's target is met, or 27.8% of the projected new power plant installations of 225 GW, taking 100 MW of capacity retirements into account.
In the period up to 2010, Germany, Spain, France and the UK are expected to account for 74% of wind's total installed capacity in the EU. In Denmark, the Netherlands and the UK, expected growth is based on rapid development offshore. Using International Energy Agency projections as source, EWEA says wind will generate 5.5% of EU electricity consumption in 2010 and 12.1% in 2020.
Keeping on target will ensure that over this decade wind will become one of the most important electricity generating technologies, says EWEA's Arthouros Zervos. "The target is achievable and conservative, as long as the clear commitment of the EU and member states to wind power development continues to strengthen." Zervos adds that wind will provide 50% of the new capacity needed to meet the EU directive target of an increase in electricity from renewables in Europe from 14% in 1997 to 22% by 2010.
But European parliament member Mechtild Rothe warns that despite EWEA's projections, the 22% target will not be met if the less active countries do not change their national policies. "Only a fraction of the member states are currently on track," she says. Eurelectric, Europe's electricity industry association, agrees. It warns the 22% target for renewables is desirable but "just too ambitious." Eurelectric's Paul Bulteel says the long lead times in constructing projects mean the targetted capacity would need to be in development now. This is not happening, he says.
Eurelectric says it supports more renewable energies among a number of other energy technologies including nuclear. But the association believes that environmental objectives should be reached through market oriented mechanisms. One of its priority concerns is that some countries' support mechanisms for renewables artificially distort the market. The power industry also needs to meet the challenge of managing increasing levels of "intermittent" power from wind and other renewables on the network, it says.
EWEA's briefing on the 75 GW target provides details of how much of total European electricity will come from wind, its contribution to EU CO2 reductions and meeting Kyoto commitments, and the savings that can be achieved by not having to invest in alternative generation or pay the external costs of using polluting technologies.