Research predicts European wind rush by 2025

New research has anticipated that more than 140GW of new wind power capacity will be deployed in Europe by 2025 despite deep regulatory reform, in the same week that Wind Europe called on the European Union (EU) to ramp up political commitments to make the continent the best choice for renewables investment.

Renewable energy consultants MAKE highlight that policy uncertainty caused by changes to national support mechanisms is driving a “rush to market” for wind developers that wish to commission new assets before fresh regulatory frameworks are implemented.

According to MAKE, around 60% of installations over the next decade will be commissioned in Northern Europe, where persisting low power prices are prompting governments to reconsider Feed-in-Tariffs (FiT). The research singles out the early phase out of the UK’s Renewable Obligation (RO) scheme, which left five grace periods with a significant pipeline of projects to be completed by the end of the decade.

European leadership

The research comes in the same week that industry group Wind Europe’s Making Transition Work report stressed that the EU’s “modest” 2030 target of 27% renewables in total energy consumption must rise to 30% if the continent wishes to remain a wind sector leader.

Wind Europe suggests the revised Renewable Energy Directive (RED) should guarantee policy continuity to increase investor confidence, and highlights the importance of continued national legislation supporting wind energy projects beyond 2020. The European Commission (EC) should prevent low investor confidence through the adoption of a new energy market design to reflect the long-term viability of renewables, Wind Europe asserts.

WindEurope chief executive said Giles Dickson said: “Wind energy is no longer an expensive European niche technology; it is a mainstream and affordable source of electricity generation in many parts of the world. Nevertheless, Europe is not giving the leadership on clean energy it once did. Overall levels of ambition have fallen, certainly compared to other parts of the world. The outlook for wind investments in Europe is less stable than it was, while wind markets outside of Europe are growing significantly.”

The report warns that unstable regulatory frameworks are disrupting power markets and risk mitigating the environmental and economic benefits of wind energy on the European market. Policymakers should lift regulatory barriers and have a more ambitious and holistic approach on electrification, the report suggests.

Dickson continued: “For Europe to reap the benefits of its first mover advantage in wind energy and to contribute its fair share to climate change mitigation, it needs three things: adequate policies, innovative technology and an integrated energy system. It is needed to ensure that citizens, businesses and governments maximise the benefits that wind energy provides to society.”

Winds of change

The wind industry has steadily grown into a cornerstone of the green revolution in recent years, through significant uptake in investment and energy production. The European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) has stated that wind energy could be the largest power supply source in the EU by 2030 as long as governments drive ambition in climate and energy policies. 

According to research published in a Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) flagship publication, global wind power installations will nearly double in the next five years as prices continue to fall and countries develop renewable energy to comply with emissions reduction targets.

Earlier this year, UK National Grid data revealed that 2015 was a record-breaking year for wind energy generation, with onshore and offshore wind farms setting new weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual records. In total, Britain now has more than 10GW of offshore wind capacity either operating, under construction or with FID’s taken. 

George Ogleby

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