EWEA?s 2030 Target: 400 GW of wind energy in the EU

The onshore development forms a classic S-curve of early exponential growth being replaced by saturation towards 2030. In terms of total capacity, offshore is currently (end 2008) at the level of onshore wind power in 1994. By 2023, offshore capacity is expected to reach the 63.5 GW of wind that was operating onshore at the end of 2008.

According to the target, offshore wind power is following onshore wind in Europe with a 15 year time-lag. Given its larger potential, it can be expected that total offshore wind capacity will exceed onshore capacity at some point beyond 2030.

A comparison of EWEA’s scenarios up to 2030 with those of independent analysts shows that EWEA’s targets are conservative. EWEA’s scenario has 129 GW of installed capacity in 2014 compared with 133 GW for Emerging Energy Research (EER) and 165 GW for BTM Consult. By 2020, EWEA has 230 GW to BTM’s 312 GW, although EER has a lower target of 221 GW. In 2030, EWEA’s 400 GW target is well exceeded by BTM’s more ambitious 509 GW (although it is important to note that BTM is looking at the whole of Europe, not just the EU-27). There is no available 2030 figure from EER.

By 2030, wind power in the EU will produce 1,155 TWh – 592 TWh onshore and 563 TWh offshore, meeting between 26% and 34% of EU electricity demand, depending on the level of demand. Due to the higher capacity factor of offshore wind turbines, the 150 GW offshore wind energy capacity will produce almost as much power as the 250 GW onshore wind power in 2030. By 2020, the production of offshore wind electricity (148 TWh) will exceed the current electricity production from onshore wind (132 TWh).

No significant decommissioning of offshore wind turbines is envisaged until after 2030. The market for offshore wind will continue to expand beyond 2030, but the EWEA scenario conservatively assumes that the overall wind market will be stable from 2021 to 2030. The reason is the higher political uncertainty once the 2009 EU Renewable Energy Directive expires in 2020. Wind energy development after 2020 will to a large degree be determined by the price and availability of fuel and the price of CO2.

In total, the new EWEA targets suggest that 181 GW of new capacity will be built in the 12 years from 2009 to 2020, and that an additional 242 GW will be constructed in the decade from 2021 to 2030. 

EWEA expects the annual market for offshore to reach 1.1 GW in 2010, which would translate into an average annual growth rate for offshore of 76% this decade – more than twice the annual growth rate in onshore in the ten years from 1991 to 2000. To meet the 230 GW target in 2020 would require an average growth in annual installations of 10.1% from 2009 to 2020: 7.3% growth in the onshore market and 28.7% growth in the offshore market.

In total, average annual installations are assumed to more than double from 7 GW this decade (2001 to 2010) to 15.1 GW in the ten years from 2011 to 2020. In the ten years after that (2021 to 2030), average annual installations will be some 50% higher (24.2 GW) than the decade before.

Summary of wind energy in 2030, according to EWEA 2008 targets

400 GW installed capacity: 150 GW onshore and 250 GW offshore
• Annual installations of 24.2 GW: 10.5 GW onshore (43%) and 13.7 GW offshore (57%)
• Annual investments of €24.8 billion: €8.3 onshore and €16.5 billion offshore
• Meeting 26-34.7% of EU electricity demand depending on total demand
• 38% of total electricity generating capacity in the EU (Total end 2030: 1,061 GW)
• Producing 1,155 TWh of electricity: 592 TWh onshore and 563 TWh offshore, equivalent to the consumption
of 241 million average EU households
• Avoiding 600 Mt CO2 annually
• Avoided fuel cost of €56 billion (assuming IEA forecast: fuel cost equivalent to $122/bbl of oil)
• Avoiding €15 billion of CO2 cost annually (assuming €25/t CO2)

Wind Power’s Share of EU Electricity Demand

The 64.9 GW of installed capacity in the EU-27 by the end of 2008 will, in a normal wind year, produce 137 TWh of electricity, enough to meet 4% of EU electricity demand.

Wind power’s share of the total EU power demand depends on whether total electricity demand in the EU increases in line with the European Commission’s baseline scenario19 or stabilises in accordance with its New Energy Policy scenario20.

Wind power will produce 179 TWh in 2010, 582 TWh in 2020, and 1,155 TWh in 2030. Wind energy will meet between 5% (baseline) and 5.2% (New Energy Policy) of EU electricity demand in 2010, between 14.3% and 16.6% in 2020, and between 26.2% and 34.3% in 2030, depending on how overall electricity consumption develops in the EU between now and 2030.

It is assumed that the average capacity factor of all wind turbines in the EU will increase from 24.1% in 2008 to 24.7% in 2010, 28.9% in 2020 and 33% in 2030. The increase will be due to better design, exploiting the resources in more windy areas of Europe, technology improvements and a larger share of offshore wind. In Germany, average capacity factors will only start increasing if older turbines are replaced and offshore wind power takes off. It should be noted that for a technology that makes use of a free resource, a high capacity factor is not a goal in itself. It is not technically problematic to increase capacity factors, but doing so affects grid integration, modelling and generation costs.

Wind power’s share of EU household demand

The wind power production derived from the new EWEA scenarios can be expressed in terms of household electricity consumption. Household consumption is expected to increase from 790 TWh in 2006 to 1,114 TWh in 2030. By 2030 some 25% of total electricity demand will be consumed by households. Other sectors that consume electricity include industry, agriculture, and public and private services.

While the total EU population is estimated to remain relatively stable, the number of households will increase by approximately 30 million between 2008 and 2030, indicating a reduction in the average household size from 2.3 in 2008 to 2.0 in 2030. The average annual household consumption, nevertheless, will increase by 19% from 4,037 kWh per year in 2008 to 4,787 kWh in 2030.
The wind power capacity installed by the end of 2008 will produce 137 TWh in an average wind year, equivalent to the electricity needs of 34 million average EU households. If the EWEA targets are reached, wind power will produce electricity equivalent to the needs of 44 million households in 2010, 131 million households in 2020 and 241 million EU households in 2030. By 2030 wind power would produce electricity equivalent to more than all the electricity consumed by the EU’s 233 million households.

Wind energy and electric vehicles

Car manufacturers have started to develop “hybrid vehicles” and “electric vehicles” (EVs) in recent years. EWEA’s scenarios to 2030 do not take into account any increase in electricity demand from electric cars. It is generally recognised that electric motors are much more efficient than the combustion engine. Consequently, a shift from the current petrol and diesel cars to electric cars could save large amounts of fossil fuels. It is important to stress that an electric vehicle is only as “clean” as the technology used to produce the electricity that it runs on. Consequently, the larger the share of renewable energy in Europe’s power mix, the cleaner the electric vehicles of the future will be.

Conservatively assuming that an average electric car consumes 0.2 kWh per kilometre and has an average mileage of 10,000 kilometres per car, an electric car will consume 2,000 kWh per year. Consequently, the wind power produced in Europe in 2008 could power 68.5 million electric cars. If the new EWEA targets are met, enough wind power would be produced to power 291 million cars in 2020 and 577 million electric cars in 2030. In 2006, there were around 230 million cars in Europe.

The IEA24 expects 4,528 GW of electricity generating capacity to be installed worldwide in the period 2007-2030, requiring investments of $5,034 billion in generation, $2,106 billion in transmission grids and $4,657 billion in distribution grids. For OECD Europe, the IEA expects 686 GW to be built, requiring investments of $922 billion in new generation, $187 billion in transmission and $567 billion in distribution grids.

As already mentioned, wind power’s contribution to new power capacity in the EU was exceeded only by gas in the last decade. 30% of all installed capacity was wind power from 2000 to 2008. 52% was natural gas, 6% was coal and 0.7% was nuclear. In 2008, the EU countries installed more wind energy capacity than any other power technology.

Europe has to invest in new capacity to replace ageing plants and meet future demand. 801 GW of electricity generating capacity was operating in the EU by the end of 2008. Total installed capacity will increase to 901 GW in 2020 and 966 GW in 2030, according to the European Commission. It expects new capacity worth 287 GW to be built between 2009 and 2020 and an additional 298 GW between 2021 and 2030. In total, 585 GW of new capacity will need to be constructed over the coming 22 years in the EU, equal to 73% of the total capacity installed by end 2008. Consequently, 187 GW of existing capacity will be decommissioned until 2020 and an additional 233 GW between 2021 and 2030.

The European Commission’s scenario for the future development of wind energy is significantly lower than EWEA’s. Hence, it is necessary to adjust the European Commission figures for total generating capacity and new capacity to take account of wind energy’s capacity factor being lower than that of the average coal, gas or oil plant.

Adjusting for the difference in capacity factors adds 95 GW to the total generating capacity in 2030 to make a total of 1,061 GW. It adds 94.5 GW to the new generating capacity installed between 2009 and 2030, taking the total for the period to 680 GW. In 2008, 8.1% of all capacity in the EU was wind energy. That share is forecast to increase to 9.9% in 2010, 24.2% in 2020 and 37.7% in 2030.

Wind power’s share of new generating capacity is forecast to be 32% in 2009-2010, 59% in 2011-2020 and 70% in the decade leading up to 2030.