Europe can potentially generate 100 times the current amount of energy generated, and produce enough power to power the world until 2050, if it were to maximize land use for onshore wind capacity.
That’s according to a new analysis by the UK’s University of Sussex and Denmark’s Aarhus University.
The researchers have found that should all of Europe’s onshore wind capacity be realized, total generation on the continent would reach 52.5 TW – enough to power the globe until 2050. That figure translates to 1 MW for every 16 European citizens.
The researchers analyzed geographical information systems (GIS)-based wind atlases and found that 46% of Europe is suitable for onshore wind facilities, providing capacity for a further 11 million wind turbines to be installed on just shy of 5 million square kilometers of suitable land.
Turkey, Russia and Norway have been identified as having the most potential for future wind power development. However, most of Western Europe is also considered suitable for further wind generation because of suitable wind speeds and large stretches of flat land.
“The study is not a blueprint for development but a guide for policymakers indicating the potential of how much more can be done and where the prime opportunities exist,” said Benjamin Sovacool, professor of energy policy at the University of Sussex and co-author of the study. “Our study suggests that the horizon is bright for the onshore wind sector and that European aspirations for a 100% renewable energy grid are within our collective grasp technologically.
“Obviously, we are not saying that we should install turbines in all the identified sites but the study does show the huge wind power potential right across Europe which needs to be harnessed if we’re to avert a climate catastrophe.”
This article first appeared in our sister title Smart Energy International.