The wind industry is rapidly expanding, that much you probably already know. But did you know that it is expanding so fast that both the European Wind Energy Association and the European Commission have consistently underestimated the future wind power capacity they expect to be installed?
Going back to 1997, when the European Commission first talked about targets for renewable energy, a Commission White Paper set a non-binding goal of 40 GW of wind power by 2010. This target was exceeded by more than double: by the end of 2010 there were 84.3 GW of wind power in Europe. Impressively, the 40-GW target was reached five years early.
That’s not to mention the industry’s own targets. In 2003 EWEA set targets of 75 GW of wind power capacity by 2010 and 180 GW by 2020, which was before the European Union expanded to include central and eastern European countries. Following the admission of Romania and Bulgaria in 2007, EWEA increased its targets. This time it expected 80 GW by 2010, 180 GW by 2020 and 300 GW by 2030.
In 2011 we can safely say that the industry exceeded its own 2010 target: by the end of the year 84.3 GW was installed. Even the industry itself cannot keep up with its targets.
And then, in 2007, agreement on a binding target for a 20% share of renewable electricity in the EU’s overall supply by 2020 was reached. With wind energy in the leading position in the EU renewable energy sector, EWEA decided to raise its 2020 and 2030 targets to 230 GW and 400 GW respectively. Given the sector’s track record, we’re confident these targets will be met.
But the industry still needs signals to keep on growing, to keep on cutting the EU’s carbon output and to keep on creating green jobs. A new renewable energy target for 2030 must be set, we must invest in the electricity infrastructure that will deliver power from onshore and offshore wind farms to consumers and, a single EU power market must be formed to allow all power technologies to compete on a fair basis.
With this in place, Europe will be on the path to having 100% renewable electricity by 2050 with wind power contributing 50% of this.
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