European wind energy targets increased by 50%

Europe will witness a huge expansion in the amount of wind energy produced, especially offshore, new targets by the industry body have revealed.

Under new targets agreed by the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) at its recent annual general meeting in Kassel, Germany, wind capacity in European countries has been increased from 40 gigaWatts (GW) to 60GW installed capacity by 2010, of which 5GW are expected to be offshore capacity. However, a new target of 150GW was agreed for 2020, of which 50 GW would be generated offshore.

The leap in off-shore generating, from a target of 8% of capacity in 2010 to one-third in 2020 is explained by increasingly less cumbersome planning restrictions, allowing greater numbers of more powerful turbines to be installed off-shore. North-western Europe, with high winds and shallow seas, is predicted to see the bulk of offshore capacity increases. In 1999, Denmark announced a target to achieve an offshore wind capacity of 4GW by 2030 and, this year, the Netherlands set a target of 1.25GW of off-shore capacity by 2020.

EWEA said that its overall targets for installed wind energy capacity had been increased now to provide a better reflection of the high rates of growth in Europe seen over the last few years. Since 1993, the market for new turbines has grown at over 40 % per year, EWEA said, with 1999 being a record year with over 3GW installed. This took Europe’s total installed capacity to 9.5GW, well above the EWEA’s old target for 2000 of 8GW.

The wind industry believes that the target for 2010 set by the EWEA in 1996 of 40 GW, the same as the target set for Wind in the European Commission’s 1997 White Paper on Renewable Energy, will be achieved well before 2010. Indeed, the rate at which wind turbines are installed would need to drop significantly in order for the EU not to surpass the target.

“The strong performance of wind power supports the targets set in the Commission’s proposal for a directive on electricity from renewable sources” said EWEA Vice President Arthouros Zervos. “Wind Power can compensate for the under-achievement relative to White Paper targets by some other renewable energy sources. And experience with wind power shows the possibilities for rapid development of other renewable technologies in the future given better-adapted policies for renewables.”

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