OECD Europe – 10.5 GW of new wind power were added during 2009

While individual markets within this group of countries may move at different rates from year to year, the overall trend has been one of steady upward growth. 10.5 GW of new wind power were added during 2009, bringing the total installed capacity to 75.5 GW, which, in a normal year, can be expected to generate about 162.5 TWh of electricity.

This would account for between 4% and 5% of this region’s demand for electric power. In both 2008 and 2009, more new wind  farm generating capacity was added than any other type of power generating plant, including natural gas.

Spain and Germany remain the two largest annual markets for wind energy, competing each year for the top spot (2,459 MW and 1,917 MW of new installations respectively in 2009), followed by Italy (1,114 MW), France (1,088 MW), and the UK (1,077 MW).

A further three countries (Portugal, Sweden, Turkey) each installed about 500 MW in 2009. Both Turkey and Poland are now starting to develop rapidly.

Eleven of these countries now have more than 1 GW each of total installed wind energy capacity, while one more is just below the 1 GW mark.

Offshore wind energy

Europe is pioneering the development of offshore wind turbines, which is set to become a mainstream energy source in its own right. In 2009, 582 MW of offshore wind farm was installed in the EU, up 56% on the previous year. Cumulative capacity increased to 2 GW.

The main markets in 2009 were the United Kingdom and Denmark, but several others now also have offshore wind power installations. By July 2010, Europe was home to 948 offshore wind turbines in 43 fully operational offshore wind farms, with a total capacity of 2,396 MW.

In the first half of 2010 alone, 118 new offshore wind turbines had been fully connected to the grid, according to the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA). These new wind turbines have a combined capacity of 333 MW, which is testament to continuing strong growth in offshore wind power despite the financial crisis. In addition, EWEA reported that a further 151 wind turbines (440 MW) had been installed though not yet connected to the grid.

At the start of 2010, it was estimated that 1,000 MW of new offshore wind farm would be installed in Europe during the year, representing between 9% and 10% of the region’s anticipated 2010 wind energy market.

Driving the growth of wind power in Europe (at least for EU member states) up to 2010 were a Kyoto-led target for 22% of electricity supply to come from renewables by 2010 and country by country support measures encouraged by the 2001 EU Renewable Energy Directive.

This has now been extended into a new target for 20% of final energy consumption across all EU countries to be generated by renewable sources by 2020. The new target is binding on all 27 member states, each of which has a different percentage target depending on its renewable energy resource and on the level of its existing renewables development.

Many countries in Europe have introduced feed-in tariffs to stimulate the growth of wind power and other renewable energy technologies.


Wind power is the leading renewable energy source in Germany, and provides around 7% of the country’s electricity consumption. Installed capacity reached 25,777 MW at the end of 2009, on a par with China as the second largest wind power market after the US. One of Germany’s federal states (Lower Saxony) has almost 6.5 GW of wind installations, and several states now receive over 40% of their electricity from wind energy.

Germany’s current national target is for 25%–30% of electricity to come from all renewables, mainly wind, by 2020; but Germany’s wind farm market has already had strong government encouragement for two decades.

A law first introduced in 1991 (with a major revision in 2000) includes a guaranteed feed-in tariff for all renewable power generators. Consequently the sector has developed steadily, and German wind turbines manufacturers are among the wind energy market leaders, with a global market share of 30%.

The sector currently employs more than 100,000 people, according to the German Wind Energy Association (BWE). Although Germany’s installation rate has slowed down, it still holds fourth place globally in terms annual wind power additions.

The market is poised to pick up again as the as the offshore wind farm sector is developed. Germany got off to a slow start in the field of offshore wind farm due to strict planning requirements which stipulate that offshore wind farms need to be built a long distance from shore. 2009 saw the installation of Germany’s first offshore wind farm, the 60 MW Alpha Ventus test field, which consists of twelve 5 MW wind turbines.

A further impetus came in the form of revised feed-in tariffs in January 2009, which increased the rates for onshore wind and added a special bonus for ‘repowering’ – the replacement of wind turbines aged 10 years or more with ones at least double the output, either at the same site or a neighbouring one. Offshore wind farm projects were also given improved feed-in tariffs, with several bonuses available.


The Spanish wind energy market has seen tremendous growth, and the country led Europe in 2009 with 2.46 GW of new installations, taking total wind capacity up to 19.1 GW.

This made wind power Spain’s third-largest power generation technology (behind combined cycle gas and nuclear power): 36.2 TWh were generated by wind in 2009, which met 14.5% of the country’s electricity demand.

Spain is home to some leading international wind power companies, including Iberdrola Renovables (the world’s largest wind farm owner), Acciona and Gamesa. Wind energy has proven to be a key driver for economic development, creating over 41,000 jobs and €3.8 billion in GDP in 2008.

However, due to new legislation adding considerable complexity and delays to wind farm approval, and a lowering of the premium granted to wind power, future market developments are less than certain.

Prior to that development, the Spanish Wind Energy Association (AEE) had estimated that 40,000 MW of onshore and 5,000 MW of offshore capacity could be operating by 2020, providing close to 30% of Spain’s electricity. It is unclear now if these projections, or even the government target of 21,000 MW in installed wind power capacity by the end of 2010, will be met.


The last few years have seen real growth in Italy’s wind sector– the 1.1 GW of new capacity installed during 2009 took the total to 4.85 GW, and the Italian Wind Energy Association (ANEV) estimates that 6 TWh of electricity were generated from wind power during 2009.

The country is well on its way to achieving its 2020 national target of 12 GW of wind power, and ANEV estimates that as much 16.2 GW of wind farm capacity could be installed by then.

Holding back development are issues of regional planning, especially over landscape issues, and grid connection difficulties remain unsolved – the sector is waiting for a structural solution that will make Italy’s grid more suitable for the connection of wind power. In some areas during 2009, wind farms have had their output curtailed by 30%, some even 70%, as the inadequate grid could not cope with the output.

Some operators are calling for compensation for their lost income. Wind power is offering increased employment opportunities. In 2008, 15,152 people were employed in Italy’s wind sector, 4,430 of them employed directly, the remainder in associated jobs such as transport or accounting. If Italy reaches the industry goal of 16.2 GW by 2020, the sector would be employing 66,000 people, with 19,000 of them in direct employment.


France has good wind resources, and Europe’s second-largest wind potential. Although the country had a late start, wind power development has been rapid over the past decade.

While only 30 MW of wind power capacity was installed in 2000, by the end of 2009 the total capacity was up to nearly 4.5 GW, with almost 1.1 GW added in 2009, which accounted for 41% of all the new power generation plant installed that year. The 7.8 TWh generated by wind power during 2009 accounted for only 1.6% of the country’s power consumption, but this is still twenty times more than six years ago.

It remains to be seen if the deployment of wind power will be rapid enough for France to meet its 2020 objective of renewable energy supplying 23% of its final energy demand, a quarter of which is poised to come from wind power.

The French government has set a target of achieving 25 GW of wind farm capacity by 2020, 19 GW of which onshore and 6 GW offshore. The interim target for 2012 is of 11.5 GW (10.5 GW onshore and 1 GW offshore).

As yet, France has seen no offshore wind farm developments, but the government is planning a process of three calls for tender in 2010, 2012 and 2014, the first of which will be for a total capacity of 3 GW. A consultation process on zoning for offshore wind developments should be completed by the end of September 2010.

United Kingdom

Very slow to embrace wind developments on a large scale, the United Kingdom market has finally taken off both on and offshore. The UK was the world leader in new offshore wind farm capacity in both 2008 and 2009 (with 198 MW and 306 MW, respectively), and in 2009, for the first time, the UK installed over a gigawatt of new wind capacity, taking its total to 4.05 GW.

With a healthy project pipeline, the wind and marine power association Renewable UK (formerly the British Wind Energy Association) expects about 10 GW of new projects to be built by the end of 2012.

The UK has a target to source 15% of its final energy consumption from renewables by 2020. This will require about 35% of the UK’s electricity to come from renewables, and wind power is expected to play a major part in achieving this.

Government targets are for 13–14 GW of new onshore wind by 2020, while suitable sites for up to 50 GW offshore have been identified.
Although a feed-in tariff for renewable energy installations up to 5 MW was introduced in April 2010, the existing ‘Renewable Obligation’ scheme for large wind was maintained.

This came into effect in April 2002 and requires all power suppliers to ensure that a certain percentage of the electricity they supply comes from renewable sources.


With excellent wind speeds in much of the country, Poland is one of Eastern Europe’s most promising wind markets. Total installations were 724.6 MW at the end of last year, including 181 MW of new capacity added in 2009.

Heavily dependent on coal power for its electricity, Poland needs – in order to meet EU targets – 15% of its final energy consumption to come from renewable energy by 2020, up from 7.2% in 2005. In 2005, the Polish government introduced a stronger obligation for all energy suppliers to source a percentage of their supply from renewable energy sources.

In practice however, It has not beren rigorously enforced. Now there are fears that new legislation, which came into force in March 2010, might inadvertently put wind farm developers at a disadvantage and discourage wind investment.

The Polish government is currently working on a new amendment to the Energy Law that will implement the provisions of the new EU Renewables Directive, with the objective of adopting it by the end of 2010.

The Polish Wind Energy Association is expecting dynamic growth. It has calculated that 13 GW could be installed in Poland by 2020, with 11 GW onshore, 1.5 GW offshore and 600 MW of small wind. However, it is not expected that offshore will take off until late in that period, around 2018.


Turkey’s power consumption is increasing by 8% to 9% each year. As it has very limited oil and gas reserves, the country is looking to renewable energy as a means of improving its energy security and independence from imports. And as the country prepares to join the European Union and meet carbon reduction targets, it is becoming much more aware of its wind power potential.

2009 saw the installation of 343 MW of new wind power, bringing total capacity up to 801 MW. Addition of a further 500 MW is expected in 2010.

There has been a huge response to government calls for tender, making evaluation slow. By early 2010 almost 3 GW of projects had been licensed by the authorities, and it is expected that the remainder of the tenders received before November 2007 will be processed soon. Licences for a further 10 GW are scheduled to be granted within the next five years, 15 GW within ten years, and 20 GW in the long term.

However, experts caution that Turkey’s transmission grid will need substantial upgrading if wind power on this scale is to be accommodated.

The GWEO scenarios For OECD Europe

Given the level of maturity of some European markets, the policies already in place, and the potential of others in the region, it is surprising that the Reference scenario as put forward by the International Energy Agency anticipates that annual markets already peaked in 2009 at 10.3 GW, and will from now on see a decline, falling to 9 GW by 2020 and under 5 GW by 2030.

This would result in levels of investment decreasing from €14.2 billion in 2010 to €11.3 billion in 2020 and a mere €5.9 billion in 2030. At that level, wind power would by 2030 produce 573.5 TWh and save the emission of 344 million tonnes of CO2 each year.

Within the Moderate scenario, the annual market over the next decade up to 2020 is expected to grow at a more healthy rate, from 10.3 GW in 2009 to 24.2 GW, with annual investments in the wind sector increasing from €14 billion to €29.2 billion.

That steady trend would ensure that wind power would deliver about 615 TWh of electricity to the region each year by 2020. By 2030, close to 450 GW would produce more than 1,000 TWh of electric power in this region every year, saving the emission of over 650 million tonnes of CO2 annually.

Interesting here is the contrast between these first two scenarios when it comes to employment. The Reference scenario sees employment peak early, in 2015, by when the sector would be employing just under 200,000 people across Europe, then dropping off to 136,000 by 2030.

In the Moderate scenario, however, a longer, sustained growth curve shows an expansion of jobs between 2010 and 2020, by when the wind sector would employ close to 400,000 people in Europe alone.

If you focus on the 2020 and 2030 figures, the gap between the Moderate scenario and the Advanced scenario seems less pronounced than in the models for some of the other regions.

However, a comparison shows that, in an ideal world, Europe could go even a step further in exploiting its wind resources. By 2020, the Advanced scenario forecasts a total capacity of close to 300 GW, with annual markets running steadily at around 24 GW between 2020 and 2030.

This would trigger annual investments of around €26 billion by 2030 and a workforce of 460,000 people would be employed by the wind sector at that time. In terms of electricity generation and resulting CO2 savings, the Advanced scenario also shows what could be achieved: wind power would generate close to 1,300 T Wh of electricity every year, while avoiding the emission of 760 million tons of CO2 every year in 2030.