Belgium – In order to meet its energy and climate goals, Europe needs to build more new wind energy.
WindEurope recently released its Annual Statistics 2021, highlighting Europe’s slow pace of wind energy expansion. In 2021, Europe as a whole installed 17.4 GW of new wind power, bringing the total capacity installed to 236 GW. The EU-27 added 11 GW of new wind capacity.
According to WindEurope’s Annual Statistics 2021, the EU only built 11 GW of new wind farms in 2021 and is on track to build 18 GW per year between 2022 and 2026. However, the EU requires 30 GW of new wind capacity per year to meet its 2030 renewable energy target. The European wind energy supply chain is being impacted by the slow expansion rate. WindEurope highlights the “poor health” of the European wind energy industry in a letter to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
Onshore wind accounted for 81 percent of new wind capacity in Europe. The United Kingdom, Sweden, Germany, Turkey, and the Netherlands, in that order, built the most new wind turbines last year. The most onshore wind was built in Sweden, while the most offshore wind was built in the United Kingdom.
The WindEurope Annual Statistics includes projections for the years 2022-2026. Over the next five years, the EU is expected to build 18 GW of new wind farms on average. This is an improvement over 2021, but it is still far short of the amount of wind energy that the EU needs to meet its 40% renewable energy target by 2030.
Onshore wind will continue to account for three-quarters of new installations between 2022 and 2026. Over the next five years, Germany is expected to install the most new wind capacity, followed by the United Kingdom, France, Spain, and Sweden.
The majority of EU countries have set ambitious national goals for wind energy expansion. Permitting, on the other hand, remains the main stumbling block. Europe is not allowing anywhere near the number of new wind farms that are required. Moreover, almost no Member State meets the EU Renewable Energy Directive’s deadlines for permitting procedures. The rules and procedures for obtaining permits are far too complicated. The staffing of permitting authorities is not always adequate.
WindEurope explained how the low volume of permitted projects is affecting Europe’s wind turbine manufacturers and wider supply chain in a letter to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. And how the industry is dealing with higher steel and other commodity prices, as well as disrupted international supply chains. Four of Europe’s five wind turbine manufacturers were losing money in 2021.
“The European wind industry is losing money, closing factories and shedding jobs – just when it should be growing to meet the huge expansion of wind power Europe wants. If this continues, the Green Deal is in trouble, not to mention Europe’s energy security goals,” says Giles Dickson.
Reliance on fossil fuels
The European Green Deal calls for immediate action on climate change, as well as increased job creation, innovation, and energy security. It was clear even before the current geopolitical crisis that Europe needed to rapidly expand renewable energy. The high energy prices of the previous year have only exacerbated this need. They demonstrate the dangers of Europe importing 58% of its energy and relying on costly fossil fuel imports – often from unreliable sources. They demonstrate that Europe’s industry and businesses urgently require more “made in Europe” renewable energy, not least because renewable energy is less expensive than fossil energy.