Contribution of wind power to electricity generation capacity

The 84.3 GW of installed capacity in the EU-27 at the end of 2010 will, in a normal wind year, produce 182 TWh of electricity, enough to meet 5.3% of EU electricity demand.

Wind power’s share of total EU power demand depends on the evolution of electricity consumption in the EU. The European Commission, in its “Energy trends to 2030” forecast assumes that the EU’s gross electricity consumption will grow by 11.6% over the next 10 years; from 3,307.2 TWh in 2010 to 3,689.7 in 2020.

The forecast assumes an electricity consumption of 4,051.3 TWh in 2030, implying a further 9.8% increase in demand from 2020 and an overall 22.5% increase in demand in the 20 years from 2010 to 2030.

Wind turbines will produce 330 TWh in 2015, 581 TWh in 2020 and 1,154 TWh in 2030. Wind power will meet 9.4% of EU electricity demand in 2015 according to the European Commission’s reference scenario, 15.7% in 2020 and 28.5% in 2030.

It is assumed that the average capacity factor of all wind turbines in the EU will increase from 24.6% in 2010 to 28.8% in 2020 and 32.9% 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 farm. In Germany, average capacity factors will start to increase as older wind 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.The IEA expects 5,900 GW of electricity generating capacity to be installed worldwide in the period 2009 – 2035, requiring investments of $9.6 trillion in generation, $2.2 trillion in transmission grids and $4.8 trillion in distribution grids.

For OECD Europe, the IEA expects 337 GW to be built, requiring investments of $694 billion in new generation, $110 billion in transmission and $332 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. 28% of all installed capacity was wind farm from 2000 to 2010. 48% was gas, 6% was coal and 0.7% was nuclear. In 2010, the EU countries installed almost as much renewable power capacity than all capacity additions in previous year. 16.5% of all capacity additions were wind power. On average during the past decade, wind turbines has represented over 28% of total annual capacity additions in the EU.

Europe has to invest in new capacity to replace ageing plants and meet future demand. 878 GW of electricity generating capacity was operating in the EU by the end of 201025. Total installed capacity will increase to 1,003 GW in 2020 and 1,111 GW in 2030, according to the European Commission.

The Commission expects new capacity worth 333 GW to be built between 2011 and 2020 and an additional 291 GW between 2021 and 2030. In total, 624 GW of new capacity will need to be constructed over the coming 20 years in the EU, equal to 71% of the total capacity installed by end 2010.

Consequently, 208 GW of existing capacity will be decommissioned up to 2020 and an additional 183 GW between 2021 and 2030.

The wind energy production derived from EWEA’s scenarios can be expressed in terms of household electricity consumption. Household consumption is expected to increase from 815 TWh in 2010 to 1,102 TWh in 2030.

By 2020, some 27% of total electricity demand will be consumed by households. Other sectors that consume electricity include industry, agriculture, public and private services.

While the total EU population is estimated to remain relatively stable, the number of households will increase by approximately 25 million between 2010 and 2030, indicating a reduction in average household size from 2.3 people in 2010 to 2.15 in 2030. The average annual household consumption will increase by 21% from 3,759 kWh in 2010 to 4,579 kWh in 2030.
The wind farm capacity installed by the end of 2010 will produce 181 TWh in an average wind year which is equivalent to the electricity needs of 48 million EU average households. If EWEA’s targets are reached, wind power will produce electricity equivalent to the needs of 140 million households in 2020 and 252 million households in 2030. By 2030 wind power will produce more electricity than the combined consumption of the EU’s 240 million households.