The wind industry is bullish about the future of the technology, as could be gauged at this week’s European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) conference in Paris, but leaders warned against complacency ahead of COP21 at the end of this month.

EWEA launched its annual report, entitled ‘Aiming High’ and, in keeping with that slogan, the publication suggests that wind power has the potential to exceed gas and other forms of energy within the next decade if European member states stick to the ambitious policy framework already set in place.
Anders Runevad
The report asserts that total wind installations in Europe could reach 392 GW; with 294 GW of onshore and 98 GW of offshore wind. Currently the 128.8 GW wind sector in Europe can power 10 per cent of energy consumption a year.

Anders Runevad, CEO of Vestas, told delegates that, “It makes economic and environmental sense. The competitiveness of wind is really there- and it’s very feasible. There are no fuel costs or price flexibility. Onshore wind is the same as coal and gas at the moment – meaning its mainstream. Secondly it is clean, readily available, carbon-free and of course water-free, which is important in many parts of the world.”

Expanding on the water argument, Runevad added that, ‘wind energy will grow in importance as water shortages hit sectors like hydropower and nuclear. Wind is now the economically wise decision.’

Marcus Tacke, EWEA chairman and Siemens Wind Power CEO, highlighted the report’s claims on the potential for wind energy but urged the industry to seize its moment, or see that potential go unfulfilled.

“We have important issues facing us. The wind industry has seen strong growth, but that does not mean we can become complacent, this does not mean we can take anything for granted. Our political leaders are here. They must take important decisions in the weeks and months to come that will have a significant impact on the industry.”

“With COP21 coming up, the wind industry has a unique offer. I encourage all of those who are participating to not let this important opportunity pass,” he said, opening the conference.  

Giles Dickson, chief executive officer of EWEA, said: “Wind power can be the foundation of the European energy system within the next 15 years.

“Policymakers must demonstrate more determination than is on show today. Wind power can deliver economic growth in Europe by boosting investments, creating jobs and reducing electricity bills. A new market design, a reformed ETS and rigorous accountability on 2030 targets are essential if these goals are to be achieved.

“Last year wind power installed more than gas and coal combined in the EU. Europe’s energy and economic transition is underway. Now politicians must decide whether to accelerate this transition or drag their heels, which would damage investments and job creation.”

The report recommends developing renewable energy action plans, streamlining permit procedures, driving legislation to promote a fully-functioning market and a reform of the Emissions Trading System as a means to reach the 2030 target.