In the EU, wind power continues to be one of the most popular electricity generating technologies

Europe has historically been and continues to be one of the world’s strongest markets for wind energy development. In 2009, the European Union (EU) saw another record year with installations of almost 10.163 GW, thereby reaffirming its status as a leading wind energy market.

Industry statistics released by the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) show that in 2009, cumulative wind power capacity increased by 16% to reach a level of 74.767 GW; this was up from 64.719 GW at the end of 2008. This 10.163 GW of new wind power capacity represents a wind turbine manufacturing turnover of some 13 billion €, of which 1.5 billion € is from offshore wind investments.

Over the last ten years, cumulative wind energy installations in the EU have increased by an average of 23%/yr. The overall market growth in 2009 was 16%. Looking beyond Europe, the global market for wind turbines grew by 31% last year to a total of 158 GW.

In the EU, wind power continues to be one of the most popular electricity generating technologies for expanding capacity. Since 2000, almost 212 GW of new electricity generating capacity has been installed in the EU. During that time, the installed wind capacity has increased almost eight times from 9.7 to 74.8 GW.

Over these last eight years, according to figures from Platts PowerVision and EWEA, new gas installations totalled 103 GW, while wind energy installations totaled more than 65.6 GW. This represents 31% of the total new generation installations over the period between 2000 and 2009.

In 2009 alone, wind power installations accounted for 39% of new power installations in Europe and grew more than any other power-generating technology. Wind energy now represents 9% of the total EU installed power capacity. Total wind power capacity installed by the end of 2009 will produce 163 TWh, or 4.8 % of EU power demand in an average wind year, and will avoid about 106 million tons of CO2 annually.

In 2000, less than 0.9% of EU electricity demand was met by wind power. In 2008, 20% of Denmark’s electricity came from wind, 12% in Spain, and 7% in Germany. The 2009 capacity increase was driven by Italy, Germany, and Spain, together representing 54% of the total. Italy added 1,114 MW to reach 4,850 MW; France installed 1,088 MW for a total of 4,492 MW; and the UK added 1,077 MW to get to 4,051 MW.

The new Member States of the EU performed well and increased their installed wind farm capacity by 41%, with Poland, the most successful, reaching a total of 725 MW. 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. The objective is to have 20% of renewable energy in the European energy mix in 2020, which could represent 35% of European electricity coming from renewable sources.

Offshore wind power

Offshore wind, seen as a key market for European expansion, is now taking off. By 2009, the industry had developed 39 wind farm projects in nine countries, many of them large scale and fully commercial, with a total capacity of around 2,063 MW.

At the end of 2009, offshore wind farm installations represented nearly 2.8% of the total installed wind power capacity. The short-term prospects for offshore wind are promising, with several wind projects planned to be connected to the grid in 2010. Around 1,000 MW are expected to be installed during 2010, with more than 10 projects being completed. The installations expected in 2010 should amount to more than a 75% market growth compared to 2009 installations.

Prospects for the next decade look bright. Currently 16 offshore wind farms are under construction in Europe. Another 53 wind farm installations have been fully consented, totalling more than 16,000 MW. At the end of 2009, EWEA performed a survey amongst its members and identified a total project pipeline of 100 GW.

The EU Legislative Framework for Wind Energy

Up until now, an important factor behind the growth of the European wind power market has been strong policy support both at the EU and at the national level. The EU’s Renewable Electricity Directive (77/2001/EC) had been in place since 2001. The aim was 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 was a historical step in the delivery of renewable electricity and constituted one of the main driving forces behind recent policies being implemented.

In December 2008, the European Union agreed to 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); 30% by 2013-14; 45% by 2015-2016; and 65% by 2017-18.

In terms of electricity consumption, renewable sources should provide about 35% of the EU’s electricity by 2020, and wind energy is set to contribute the most – nearly 35% of all the power coming from renewable sources. 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 (NREAP) to be submitted by 30 June 2010 to the EC.

The NREAPs 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 NREAPs 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 NREAP 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 2009, around 20 R&D projects were running with the support of the Sixth (FP6) and Seventh (FP7) 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 long-term impact and the Directorate-General for Transport and Energy (formerly DG TREN, now DG ENER) 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 2009.

In 2009, two FP6 projects POW’WOW and UPWIND, as well as three FP7 projects, RELIAWIND, PROTEST, and SAFEWIND, continued their activities. POW’WOW, which stands for Prediction Of Waves, Wakes and Offshore Wind was a 42-month coordination action that started in October 2005 with the aim to coordinate 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. Several workshops were held and the project finished at the end of March 2009, but the website is still active at
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 wind 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 composed of 40 partners and brings together the most advanced European specialists of the wind industry.

RELIAWIND: Offshore wind energy is called to play a key role in the achievement of the EU 2020 objectives. 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 wind power 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.

RELIAWIND started in March 2008 and will go for 36 months. 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 prenormative (before standards development) 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 group consisting of a wind 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. PROTEST started in March 2008 and will end in August 2010.

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 weather (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. SAFEWIND started in September 2008 and will last for 48 months. 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 ultipurpose renewable energy (wind/wave/ocean). Several proposals were received by 25 November
2009 and are being evaluated.

DG TREN activities

The two projects discussed below represent demonstration actions funded within the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7- 2008 Call) of the EU and managed by the DG ENER.

WINGY-PRO: The aim of this project is to demonstrate the first ever large size transversal flux generator in an existing wind turbine. A determining factor for increasing the profitability of an offshore wind farm is the installation of wind turbines with a significantly high power capacity and low weight.

Until now, the designs of large capacity wind turbines for offshore wind farm applications have been up scaling of the existing smaller models. This has led to the construction of wind turbines with huge physical dimensions. Consequently, the weight of the turbines have increased considerably, and the material-resistance of the blades have been taken almost to its limits (rotor blades can reach a length of up to 61 m).

These large dimension and weight have a negative influence on the economic efficiency of those offshore applications, because of the high costs for the foundation, transportation, and installation of the wind turbines.

The objective of the project is to carry out the design and development of an improved generator technique through the transverse flux generator (TFG) with permanent magnets in the rotor. There are single-, two- or multi-phase machines, depending on the number of independent stator windings, which are mounted axially on the machine shaft.

This technique has been known in the electro-field for years, but due to its strong vibrations and high noise emissions, it has been hardly used. Nowadays however, thanks to new and innovative manufacturing methods and to the development in modern micro-processing controls, the TFG can be used in practical applications.

NIMO: The energy output from wind turbines has increased dramatically over the past thirty years from 50 kW to 6 MW, while 10-12 MW turbines are in the design stage. The greater energy yield achieved means that the number of wind turbines needed to produce a given amount of energy has been reduced significantly.

Over the same period, the tower height and rotor diameter of wind turbines have doubled, leading to much more complex construction, maintenance and inspection procedures, particularly when off-shore wind turbines are concerned. Under normal operation schedules wind turbines have an average annual maintenance expenditure of ~2% of the original turbine investment.

However, unpredictable failure of certain wind turbine components (blades, tower, gearbox, generator, brakes, yaw system, etc.) can lead to substantially higher maintenance costs and reduced availability of turbines. To increase the competitiveness of wind energy in comparison to other power generation technologies, significant and measurable improvements in the availability, reliability, and lifetime of wind turbines need to be achieved in the foreseeable future. NIMO seeks to practically eliminate catastrophic failures and minimize the need for corrective maintenance by developing and successfully implementing an integrated condition monitoring system for the continuous evaluation of wind turbines.

NIMO should advance existing state-of-the-art condition monitoring technology used in wind turbines by delivering an advanced system which will be able to reliably evaluate the condition of critical structural components, rotating parts and braking mechanisms.

Future R&D projects

New FP7 projects to start in 2010 will address deep-offshore multipurpose renewable energy platforms (MARINA Platform and ORECCA), 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. As part of this plan, the European Industrial Initiatives will be set up to include the industrial sector in setting priorities, objectives, activities, and in identifying the financial and human needs to make a step change in the energy sector.

The European Wind Industrial Initiative, which should be launched in 2010, 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, 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
• Making wind energy the most competitive energy source
• Enabling the development of new types of wind 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 (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 EWEA, 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, the Finance Group responsible for exploring and proposing funding mechanisms, and the 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.

Authors: Thierry Langlois d’Estaintot, European Commission, DG Research; Roberto Gambi, European Commission, DG TREN; Nicolas Fichaux, Glória Rodrigues, and Athanasia Arapogianni, European Wind Energy Association.