15% of electricity from wind – too little to deliver EU’s Green Deal

Pattern Energy’s Gulf Wind facility in Kenedy County, Texas
Pattern Energy’s Gulf Wind facility in Kenedy County, Texas

Europe installed 15.4 GW of new wind energy in 2019, of which three-quarters were onshore wind, according to a new report from industry body WindEurope.

Onshore wind generation grew by 11.8 GW compared to offshore wind, which grew by 3.6 GW, bringing Europe’s total wind capacity at the start of the decade to 205 GW – 15% of all electricity consumption in Europe last year.

The UK (2.4 GW, both onshore and offshore) installed the most new wind farms followed by Spain (2.3 GW, all of it onshore), then Germany (2.2 GW, both onshore and offshore), followed by Sweden (1.6 GW, all onshore) and France (1.3 GW, also onshore).

Germany, which has long been the engine of the wind industry in Europe, is at a standstill. It only installed 1.1 GW of onshore wind last year — its lowest since 2000. And they announced very few new investments, indicating that next year won’t be much better.

Across Europe there were €19 billion of new investments announced in wind farms, covering 11.8 GW of capacity. And 15 GW of new capacity was awarded in government auctions and tenders.

2019 installations were up 27% compared to 2018 but the rate of installations needs to double to reach the goals set out in the Green Deal.

Low installation figures in Germany were partly offset by other countries. Spain is back big time — after a number of years with lower installations the country reached its highest rate of installation since 2009. Sweden also reached a record number of installations last year.

In France, challenging weather conditions and administrative delays have slowed down the construction of new wind farms. But the industry is ready to deliver on the pace set out in France’s Energy Plan.

“Wind was 15% of Europe’s electricity. But Europe is not building enough new wind farms to deliver the EU’s goal that it should be half of Europe’s electricity by 2050,” said WindEurope Chief Executive Officer Giles Dickson.

“Climate neutrality and the Green Deal require Europe to install over twice as much new wind energy each year as it managed in 2019. And the growth needs to come from both offshore and onshore wind. That requires a new approach to planning and permitting and continued investment in power grids. The National Energy and Climate Plans for 2030 are crucial here. The EU needs to ensure they’re ambitious and rigorously implemented.”

This article was first published on Smart Energy International and was reprinted with permission. 

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