Wind Power in European Union

Wind power in European Union By Thierry Langlois d’Estaintot, Roberto Gambi, Nicolas Fichaux and Sharon Wokke

Europe has historically been and continues to be the world’s strongest market for wind energy development. In 2008, the European Union (EU) saw another record year with installations of almost 8.5 GW, thereby reaffirming its undisputed status as the world’s biggest wind market. Industry statistics released by the EWEA show that in 2008, cumulative wind capacity increased by 15% to reach a level of 64.935 GW; this was up from 56.535 GW at the end of 2007. This 8.4 GW of new wind power capacity represents a wind turbine manufacturing turnover of some 11 billion €.

In the EU, wind power continues to be one of the most popular electricity generating technologies for expanding capacity. Since 2000, almost 178 GW of new electricity generating capacity has been installed in the EU. During that time, the installed wind capacity has increased almost seven times from 9.7 to 64.9 GW. Over these last eight years, according to figures from Platts PowerVision and EWEA, new gas installations totaled 96 GW, while wind energy installations totaled more than 55 GW. This represents 31% of the total new generation installations over the period between 2000 and 2008.

In 2008 alone, wind power installations made up almost 36% of new power installations in Europe and grew more than any other power-generating technology. Wind energy now represents 8% of the total EU installed power capacity. Total wind power capacity installed by the end of 2008 will produce 142 TWh, or 4.2% of EU power demand in an average wind year, and will avoid about 108 million tons of CO2 annually. In 2000, less than 0.9% of EU electricity demand was met by wind power.

The 2008 capacity increase was driven by Italy, Germany, and Spain, together representing 53% of the total. Today, 19% of Denmark’s electricity comes from wind, 12% in Spain, and 7% in Germany. The growth was sustained in Italy – which added 1,010 MW to reach 3,736 MW – and France, which installed 950 MW for a total of 3,404 MW. The new Member States of the EU performed well and increased their installed wind capacity by 63%, with Poland, the most successful, reaching a total of 472 MW. In 2008, Bulgaria tripled its capacity and Hungary doubled its capacity.

Over the last ten years, cumulative wind energy installations in the EU have increased by an average of 26%/yr. The overall market growth in 2008 was 15%. Looking beyond Europe, the global market for wind turbines grew by 28.7% last year to 121 GW.

The slow pace of development in some European countries can be explained by a mixture of slow administrative processes, problems with grid access, and legislative uncertainty. The figures demonstrate the existence of continuous barriers to wind energy development. One critical element for a massive and sustained expansion of wind energy in all countries of the EU is the swift and rapid implementation of the European directive for the promotion of renewable energy sources, with an objective of 20% of renewable energy in the European energy mix in 2020. This could represent 35% of European electricity coming from renewables in 2020.

Offshore wind

Offshore wind, seen as a key market for European expansion, is now near take off. By 2008, the industry had developed 32 projects in ten countries, many of them large scale and fully commercial, with a total capacity of around 1,471 MW. At the end of 2008, offshore wind farm installations represented nearly 2.3% of the total installed wind power capacity.

The short-term prospects for offshore wind are promising, with several projects planned to be connected to the grid in 2009 in Germany (512 MW), France (105 MW), the United Kingdom (90 MW), Sweden (30 MW), and Denmark (28 MW). Prospects for 2015 look bright, with a total of more than 37 GW planned. One critical element for an acceleration of the development of offshore wind energy in the EU is the rapid publication of the Commission’s blueprint for a North Sea grid, the Baltic interconnection plan, and the Mediterranean ring, as announced by the second Strategic Energy Review. However, the current global financial environment is also a potential delaying factor for the foreseen deployment.

The EU Legislative Framework for Wind Energy

The RES-E Directive

Up until now, an important factor behind the growth of the European wind market has been strong policy support both at the EU and at the national level. The EU’s Renewable Electricity Directive (77/2001/EC) has been in place since 2001. The aim is to increase the share of electricity produced from RES in the EU to 21% by 2010, up from 15.2% in 2001. This target was established by the EU Renewable Electricity (RES-E) Directive, which set out differentiated national indicative targets.

The RES-E Directive has been a historical step in the delivery of renewable electricity and constitutes the main driving force behind recent policies being implemented. In the pursuit of the overall target of 21% of electricity production from renewable sources by 2010, the RES-E Directive gives EU Member States freedom of choice regarding support mechanisms. Thus, various schemes are operating in Europe, mainly feed-in tariffs, fixed premiums, green certificate systems, and tendering procedures. These schemes are generally complemented by tax incentives, environmental taxes, contribution programs, or voluntary agreements.

The European Commission (EC) reports COM (2005) 627 and COM (2008) 19 have highlighted that despite the requirements of Directive 77/2001/EC, the efforts of Member States, and some improvements of the regulatory frameworks, major barriers to the growth and integration of renewable electricity remain. In relation to wind, the progress report highlights that even if the level of payment is sufficient to cover costs, it may not increase deployment of wind. The main cause of the slow development in some Member States is not deliberate policy barriers, but delays in authorization, unfair grid access conditions, and slow reinforcement of the electric power grid. The reports invite the Member States to give a high priority to removing administrative barriers and improving grid access for renewable energy producers. Finally, the EC reports conclude that the harmonization of support schemes for economic efficiency, single market, and state aid remains a long-term goal, but that harmonization in the short-term is not appropriate. By adopting best practices or combining national support schemes, Member States can continue to reform, optimize, and coordinate their efforts to support renewable electricity. According to the European Wind Energy Association, a hasty move toward a harmonized EU-wide payment mechanism for renewable electricity would have a profoundly negative effect on the markets for wind power and put European leadership in wind power technology and other renewables at risk.

EU Legislative Framework

In December 2008, the European Union agreed a new Renewable Energy Directive to implement the pledge made in March 2007 by the EU Heads of State for a binding 20% renewable energy target by 2020. The EU’s overall 20% renewable energy target for 2020 has been divided into legally binding targets for the 27 Member States, averaging out at 20%. The Member States are given an ‘indicative trajectory’ to follow in the run-up to 2020. By 2011-12, they should be 20% of the way toward the target (compared to 2005); by 2013-14, 30%; by 2015-2016, 45%; and by 2017-18, 65%. In terms of electricity consumption, renewables should provide about 35% of the EU’s power by 2020. By 2020, wind energy is set to contribute the most – nearly 35% of all the power coming from renewables.

The directive legally obliges each EU Member State to ensure that its 2020 target is met and to outline the ‘appropriate measures’ it will take do so in a National Renewable Energy Action Plan to be submitted by 30 June 2010 to the EC. The National Action Plans (NAPs) will set out how each EU country is to meet its overall national target, including sector targets for shares of renewable energy for transport, electricity, and heating/cooling.

The NAPs will also describe how Member States will tackle administrative and grid barriers. If they fall significantly short of their interim trajectory over any two-year period, Member States will have to submit an amended NAP stating how they will make up for the shortfall. Every two years Member States will submit a progress report to the EC, containing information on their share of renewable energy, support schemes, and progress on tackling administrative and grid barriers. Based on these reports from the Member States, the EC will publish its own report the following year.

Certain measures to promote flexibility have been built into the directive in order to help countries achieve their targets in a cost-effective way without undermining market stability. For example, Member States may agree on the statistical transfer of a specified amount of renewable energy between themselves. They can also co-operate on any type of joint project relating to the production of renewable energy, including projects involving private operators if relevant. Thirdly, two or more Member States may decide, on a voluntary basis, to join or partly coordinate their national support schemes in order to help achieve their targets.

Under certain conditions, Member States will be able to help meet their national electricity sector target with imports from non-EU countries. The electricity will have to be produced by a newly constructed installation that became operational after the directive enters into force, or by the increased capacity of an installation that was refurbished after the directive enters into force, and the electricity must be consumed within the EU community. Regarding administrative procedures, the Member States will have to make sure that the authorization process for renewable energy projects is proportionate, necessary, and transparent. This should reduce the time a new project takes to become operational and help the 2020 targets be met more easily.

For integration to the electricity system, the agreement requires EU countries to take “the appropriate steps to develop transmission and distribution grid infrastructure, intelligent networks, storage facilities, and the electricity system” to help develop renewable electricity. They must also speed up authorization procedures for grid infrastructure.

EU countries must ensure that transmission system operators and distribution system operators guarantee the transmission and distribution of renewable electricity and provide for either priority access to the grid system – meaning connected generators of renewable electricity are sure that they will be able to sell and transmit their electricity – or guaranteed access – ensuring that all electricity from renewable sources sold and supported gets access to the grid.

The EC will publish, by 2018, a Renewable Energy Roadmap for the post-2020 period. This is a very welcome development that will allow the wind power sector to ensure that a stable regulatory framework replaces the Renewable Energy Directive of 2009 when it expires at the end of 2020.

R, D&D Wind Energy Projects

In 2008, around 20 R&D projects were running with the support of the Sixth and Seventh Framework Programmes of the EU (the Framework Programmes are the main EU-wide tool to support strategic research areas). The management and monitoring of these projects is divided between two Directorate-Generals (DGs) of the EC: the Directorate-General for Research (DG Research) for projects with medium- to longterm impact, and the Directorate-General for Transport and Energy (DG TREN) for demonstration projects with short- to medium-term impact on the market. The following paragraphs summarize both the nature and the main data of EU R&D initiatives funded projects during 2008.

DG Research activities

In 2008, the two projects POW’WOW and UPWIND continued their activities, and three wind-related projects started in 2008. POW’WOW, which stands for Prediction Of Waves, Wakes and Offshore Wind (, is a three-year coordination action that started in October 2005 with the aim to co-ordinate activities in the fields of short-term forecasting of wind power, offshore wind and wave resource prediction, and estimation of offshore wakes in large wind farms. The purpose of the POW’WOW project is to spread the knowledge gained in these fields among the partners and colleagues, and to start work on some roadmaps for the future. A first workshop on “Best Practice in the Use of Short-Term Forecasting of Wind Power” was held in Delft, the Netherlands in 2006. In September 2007, a workshop on “Integration of Wind and Wave Resource Assessment” was organized in Porto, Portugal. In May 2008, a second workshop on “Best Practice in the Use of Short-Term Forecasting of Wind Power” was held in Madrid, Spain.

UPWIND, which stands for Integrated Wind Turbine Design (, started in March 2006 to tackle, over six years, the challenges of designing very large turbines (8 to 10 MW), both for onshore and offshore. UPWIND focuses on design tools for the complete range of turbine components. It addresses the aerodynamic, aero-elastic, structural, and material design of rotors. Critical analysis of drive train components is also being carried out in the search for breakthrough solutions. UPWIND is a large initiative with a consortium composed of 40 partners and brings together the most advanced European specialists of the wind industry. Following the first call for proposals by the EC’s Seventh Framework Programme, three wind-related projects started in 2008.

RELIAWIND: The EU Council of Ministers, held on 8 and 9 March 2007, examined energy issues and agreed, amongst other things, that “renewable energy will cover at least 20% of the EU’s energy demand by 2020.” Wind power can make the most important contribution to this target, if sufficient emphasis is placed on technological R&D and market development.

Because of the current European scenario and its forecasted evolution toward 20% renewables by 2020, offshore wind energy is called to play a key role. Currently, offshore maintenance costs are still too high and thus require higher feed-in tariffs for the private investor’s business case to reach minimum profitability. The RELIAWIND project aims to offset this paradigm and allow offshore wind power to be deployed in the same way onshore has been. Based on the success of collaborative experiences in sectors such as aeronautics, members of the European wind energy sector established the RELIAWIND consortium to jointly and scientifically study the impact of wind turbine reliability. The mission of the consortium is to change the paradigm of how wind turbines are designed, operated, and maintained. This will lead to a new generation of offshore (and onshore) wind energy systems that will hit the market in 2015.

The objectives of this research project are:

• To identify critical failures and components (WP-1: Field Reliability Analysis)
• To understand failures and their mechanisms (WP-2: Design for Reliability)
• To define the logical architecture of an advanced wind turbine generator health monitoring system (WP-3: Algorithms)
• To demonstrate the principles of the project findings (WP-4: Applications)
• To train internal and external partners and other wind energy sector stakeholders (WP-5: Training)
• To disseminate the new knowledge through conferences, workshops, web site, and the media (WP-6: Dissemination).

PROTEST: One of the major causes of failures of mechanical systems (e.g. drive trains, pitch systems, and yaw systems) in wind turbines is insufficient knowledge of the loads acting on these components. The objective of this pre-normative project is to set up a methodology that enables better specification of design loads for the mechanical components. The design loads will be specified at the interconnection points where the component can be “isolated” from the entire wind turbine structure (in gearboxes for instance, the interconnection points are the shafts and the attachments to the nacelle frame). The focus of this activity will be on developing guidelines for measuring load spectra at the interconnection points during prototype measurements and to compare them with the initial design loads. Ultimately, these new procedures will be brought to the same high level as the state-of-the-art procedures for designing and testing rotor blades and towers, which are critical to safety. A well-balanced consortium consisting of a turbine manufacturer, component manufacturer, certification institute, and R&D institutes will describe the current practice for designing and developing mechanical components.

Based on this starting point, the project team will draft improved procedures for determining loads at the interconnection points. The draft procedures will then be applied to three case studies, each with a different focus. They will determine loads at the drive train, pitch system, and yaw system. The yaw system procedures will take into account complex terrain. The project team will assess the procedures, and (depending on the outcome) the procedures will be updated accordingly and disseminated. All partners will incorporate the new procedures in their daily practices for designing turbines and components, certifying them, and carrying out prototype measurements. Project results will be submitted to relevant standardization committees.

SAFEWIND: The integration of wind generation into power systems is affected by uncertainties in the forecasting of expected power output. Misestimating of meteorological conditions or large forecasting errors (phase errors, near cut-off speeds, etc), are very costly for infrastructures (such as unexpected loads on turbines) and reduce the value of wind energy for end-users. The state-of-the-art techniques in wind power forecasting have focused so far on the “usual” operating conditions rather than on extreme events. Thus, the current wind forecasting technology presents several strong bottlenecks. End-users argue for dedicated approaches to reduce large prediction errors and for scaling up local predictions of extreme whether (gusts, shears) to a European level because extremes and forecast errors may propagate. Similar concerns arise from the areas of external conditions and resource assessment where the aim is to minimize project failure. The aim of this project is to substantially improve wind power predictability in challenging or extreme situations and at different temporal and spatial scales. Going beyond this, wind predictability will be considered as a system parameter linked to the resource assessment phase, where the aim is to make optimal decisions for the installation of a new wind farm. Finally, the new models will be implemented into pilot operational tools for evaluation by the end-users in the project.

The project concentrates on:
• Using new measuring devices for a more detailed knowledge of the wind speed and energy available at local levels
• Developing strong synergy with research in meteorology
• Developing new operational methods for warning/alerting that use coherently collected meteorological and wind power data distributed over Europe for early detection and forecasting of extreme events
• Developing models to improve medium-term wind predictability
• Developing a European vision of wind forecasting that takes advantage of existing operational forecasting installations at various European end-users.

The 2009 call for proposals brought two cross-cutting topics about platforms for deep water offshore multipurpose renewable energy (wind/wave/ocean). Several proposals were received by 25 November 2008 and were being evaluated.

DG TREN activities

The two projects discussed below represent demonstration actions funded within the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7- 1st Call) of the EU and managed by the DG TREN.

7-MW-WEC-by-11: This action focuses on demonstrating a cost-effective large-scale high-capacity wind park using new state-of-the-art multi-megawatt turbines coupled with innovative technology used to stabilize the grid. A key objective of the ‘7-MW-WEC-by-11’ project is to introduce a new class of large-scale Wind Energy Converters (WEC), the 7-MW WEC, onto the market. Such WECs could contribute to higher market penetration levels for wind electricity in Europe. The new 7-MW WEC should be designed and demonstrated at a large scale: 11 such WECs will be demonstrated in a 77-MW wind park close to Estinnes, Belgium.

The wind park will be the first large-scale onshore wind park in Belgium and the first in the world that will consist of this ‘mega’ turbine power class. Key-challenges related to wind power will be addressed in this demonstration action ranging from technical issues (network stability and security), to financial aspects (cost effectiveness), to environmental issues (landscape pollution).

First, the ‘mega’ turbines will be developed and installed in series; this is envisioned to significantly reduce costs and increase the market value. Second, new power electronics technology and improved wind forecasting will be used to stabilize the grid in the high-capacity wind park. Improved forecasting is envisioned to further improve the cost-effectiveness of the high-capacity wind park by reducing imbalance costs and improving commercial value. Third, the 7-MW turbines will be used to maximize wind energy capacity, while reducing landscape pollution and environmental impact.

Such large WECs generate more than double the energy in the same given area when compared to conventional 2-MW turbines and require fewer turbines when compared to conventionally used wind turbines. After the 77-MW demonstration, lessons learned in developing the high-capacity Estinnes wind park will be adapted to a different national context with a weak grid system, Cyprus, Greece.

NORSEWInD will provide a wind resource map covering the Baltic, Irish, and North Sea areas. The project will acquire highly accurate, cost effective, physical data using a combination of traditional meteorological masts, ground-based remote sensing instruments (LiDAR &SoDAR), and Satellite acquired synthetic aperture radar (SAR) wind data. The vertical resolution of the ground-based instruments will be used to calibrate the satellite data to provide hub-height, real-world data. The resultant wind map will be the first stop for all potential developers in the regions being examined, and as such represents an important step forward in quantifying the quality of the wind resource available offshore. The techniques employed can be repeated in any offshore environment.

This will be showcased in the NORSEWInD validation task. Remote sensing technologies have an important role to play in the wind industry, and their use within the NORSEWInD program tol reduce the cost and increase the accuracy of offshore wind measurements will increase acceptance and showcase the ability and power of the techniques.

Future R&D projects

Several wind projects are expected to start in 2009 under the Seventh Framework Programme. The new projects will address deep-offshore multipurpose renewable energy platforms, the demonstration of innovative multi-MW machines, and wind mapping for offshore applications.

The Strategic Energy Technology Plan is a pragmatic and pioneering tool for supporting the development of low carbon technologies to significantly contribute to the European energy and climate change objectives. Part of this plan, the European Industrial Initiatives will be set up to include the industrial sector in setting priorities, objectives, and activities, and in identifying the financial and human needs to make a step change in the energy sector.

The European Wind Industrial Initiative has the objective to make wind one of the cheapest sources of electricity and to enable a smooth and effective integration of massive amounts of wind electricity into the grid. To achieve this objective, special efforts will be dedicated to greatly increase the power generation capacity of the largest wind turbines (from 5-6 MW to 10-20 MW) and to tap into the vast potential of offshore wind. This will pave the way for achieving ambitious targets by 2020:

• Supplying up to 20% of the EU electricity consumption
• Reducing the cost of electricity from wind energy by 20%
• Enabling the development of new types of turbines reaching up to 20 MW.

The European Wind Industrial Initiative will integrate the following elements:

1. Reinventing wind turbines through innovative design, integration of new materials, and development of advanced structures with particular emphasis on offshore wind applications that are far from shore and water depth independent
2. Putting an automated wind manufacturing capacity in place
3. Reducing the cost and enabling large wind energy integration into the grid by adapting the network and its operation to a progressive but fast up-take of on and offshore wind electricity
4. Accelerating market deployment through a deep knowledge of wind resources and a high predictability of wind forecasts.

The European Wind Energy Technology Platform

The European Wind Energy Technology Platform (TPWind) was officially launched on 19 October 2006, with the full support of the EC and the European Parliament. TPWind is an industry-led initiative. The Secretariat is composed of the European Wind Energy Association, Garrad Hassan, and Risø DTU. Its objective is to identify and prioritize areas for increased innovation, new and existing research, and development tasks.

Historically, the principal drivers for wind energy cost reductions have been R,D&D, for approximately 40%; and economies of scale, for around 60%. The scope of TPWind mirrors this duality. TPWind focuses not only on short- to long-term technological R&D but also on market deployment. This is reflected in the TPWind structure, as defined by the Steering Committee in 2007. TPWind is composed of four technical working groups responsible for building a Strategic Research Agenda, two working groups responsible for building a Market Deployment Strategy, a Finance Group responsible for exploring and proposing funding mechanisms, and a Mirror Group gathering representatives from national governments. The platform is lead by a Steering Committee of 25 members, representing a balance between industry and research, and between European countries. Altogether, this represents a group of 150 high-level experts representing the whole wind industry.

TPWind is the indispensable forum for the crystallization of policy and technology research and deployment pathways for the wind energy sector. It also provides an opportunity for informal collaboration and coordination between EU Member States, including those less developed in wind energy terms.

In June 2008, TPWind issued its Strategic Research Agenda and Market Deployment Strategy documents. These documents were debated during the two General Assemblies of the Technology Platform. TPWind is now moving to its next operation phase, focused on implementing its Strategic Research Agenda. Therefore, in March 2009, TPWind released a document proposing a list of concrete projects in order to enable a swift implementation of the priorities of the European wind energy sector.

Authors: Thierry Langlois d’Estaintot,European Commission, DG Research; Roberto Gambi, European Commission, DG TREN; Nicolas Fichaux, Sharon Wokke, European Wind Energy Association.