European wind energy industry meets capacity target a year early

Wind energy capacity within the EU has grown faster than expected. By the end of 1999, the industry had already met its own goal for 8,000 MW installed capacity.


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The European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) set the 8,000 MW aim for the end of 2000 and was pleased to discover that the target has been met a year early. Figures show that more than 8,500 MW is installed.

The next challenge will be meeting a target of 40,000 MW by 2010. Last year the organisation published Wind Force 10, a document that argues that it would be possible for 10% of the world’s electricity to come from wind energy by 2020

Arthouros Zervos, the acting CEO of the EWEA told edie that the 40,000 MW target for European wind capacity by 2010 target is realistic and could be surpassed if countries like the Netherlands, the UK, Italy, Greece and Ireland increase their wind energy growth rates.

“What we expect in future is continued growth in those countries that have already seen large growth – Germany, Spain and Denmark,” said Zervos. “We also have Italy moving quite fast and we expect more from the Netherlands and the UK.” Wind energy development in Ireland and Greece is also likely to move forward.

In the case of the UK, Zervos acknowledges that the obstacles have been different from those in other EU countries. “For the UK it’s been a question of licensing – planning permission. The local opposition that we have seen in the UK is something we haven’t seen in other countries.” Zervos says the EWEA would welcome government intervention to smooth planning permission procedures.

The slow development of wind energy in the UK frustrates the EWEA particularly because wind energy potential in parts of the country, particularly Scotland, is so high.

At the bottom of the EU list of installed wind capacity are, not surprisingly, the small and densely-populated countries of Belgium and Luxembourg. But France is also languishing at the bottom. “France has areas with very good potential for wind but the problem is its dependence on nuclear energy,” says Zervos. He does not know whether France will be able to develop genuine political support for wind energy considering its historical preference for nuclear.

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