European wind power reaches a milestone by EWEA

The latest validation of those two axioms presented itself this past week when the perpetual counter established by the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) reached a milestone by recording wind power in Europe had generated more than 100 GWh of electricity since 1 January 2009.

In that same time frame, the EWEA counter also recorded that European wind power had attracted more than €6.8 billion of investment, saved more than 85 million tonnes of CO2, and built close to 4,000 wind turbines.

Making those figures even more impressive is the fact that they were recorded during the middle of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

EWEA believes the counter figures continue to reinforce the obvious: onshore wind power is now a mature sector on the European energy industry. After all, in 2008, more wind power capacity was installed in the EU than any other electricity generating technology.

Despite our substantial and complex economic, energy and environmental challenges, Europe is counting on wind for technology leadership, climate protection, energy independence, commercial opportunities, exports and jobs.

Increasingly, policy makers, bureaucrats, entrepreneurs, environmentalists and journalists are realising that wind power is both successful and capable of providing even greater benefits for European citizens. Simply put, onshore wind power has proven it can provide certainty in uncertain times.

Europe is also in the process of replicating this considerable success story with the booming offshore wind sector, which is set to experience an immense expansion in the next few years.

Once the necessary offshore power grid is built, the supply chain is streamlined and the administrative obstacles are sorted out, the offshore wind sector will create for Europe staggering amounts of new, green, local, and affordable electricity.

A rapid expansion of offshore wind will also be accompanied by thousands of well-paying permanent jobs and an explosion in research and development which will help Europe maintain its leading status in other, related high-tech areas. In addition, a newly-charged offshore sector will mean less importation of dirty, expensive fossil fuels. Lastly, it will help Europe, and the world, deal with global warming caused by 150 years of CO2 heating up our atmosphere to unsustainable levels.

The future of offshore wind energy will be discussed, debated, explored and celebrated at the EWEA-organised European Offshore Wind 2009 Conference in Stockholm on 14 -16 September. On display will be more than 3,000 participants, 260 exhibitors, 300 presentations, and 23 sessions.

Because of the amazing potential of offshore wind power, perhaps it will have its own wind counter one day.

To paraphrase the old saying, together we can make offshore work. We’d better, because the clock is ticking.

Steady European market for wind turbines in 2009

New research by the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) estimates that 8,600 MW of new wind energy capacity will be installed in the EU-27 in 2009: an annual growth rate of 1% compared to 2008 installations. In 2008 wind energy, with 8,484 MW installed, was the largest source of new electricity generating capacity in the EU. This would take the EU’s cumulative installed capacity to 73,535 MW, up from 2008’s cumulative capacity of 64,935 MW.

The forecast is encouraging in a year where the financial crisis has affected most industries and where electricity demand is declining in tune with overall economic activity.

"I am pleasantly surprised by the research results. They show that the underlying demand for wind energy technology is currently strong enough to make up for project delays caused by many banks’ continued reluctance to provide project finance. Although the outlook for 2009 is encouraging, the real test of the wind energy sector’s ability to withstand the financial crisis will be 2010," commented Christian Kjaer, EWEA Chief Executive.

The fact that wind turbine manufacturers had healthy order books prior to the financial crisis reduces the impact of the crisis on the European market for wind turbines. EWEA expects the financial crisis to have a deeper impact in 2010, unless measures are taken rapidly to increase liquidity in the financial market. It is essential that the billions of Euros provided by governments to European banks through stimulus packages reach the real economy, says the industry group.

Inside the EU, there looks to be a difference between the more established markets in the old EU-15 Member States and the emerging markets of the EU-12. The EU-15 are expected to install a similar number of MW in 2009 to the amount they added in 2008. The EU-12, however, are set to install 150 MW more than they installed in 2008: an increase of approximately 35%.