Throughout the 1980s and 1990s three countries dominated Europe’s wind power scene: Denmark, Germany and Spain, and in 1984 the first European Wind Energy Conference (EWEC – now known as the EWEA Annual Event) was held in Hamburg. At that point, the EU had a cumulative wind power capacity of 800 MW.
By the late 1990s, EWEA had set up offices in Brussels and launched its www.ewea.org website. During this period the association also announced a wind energy target for 2020 of 10,000 MW – a goal that was quickly revised just a few years later to 180 GW by 2020.
In the 2000s European wind power achieved several important milestones: The world’s first large-scale offshore wind farm – Middelgrunden – was installed in waters just off Copenhagen. In 2005 European wind power moved above 40,000 MW, exceeding the EU target for 2010 five years ahead of time.
On a policy level, 2009 was a big year for the renewable energy industry in the EU – the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive was agreed by the bloc’s 27 member states, committing Europe to getting 20% of its energy from renewables by 2020.
With a total cumulative wind power capacity of 94 GW today, which supplies 6.3% of Europe’s electricity demand, wind power is still making huge advances, but the picture is diversifying: markets are emerging in Eastern Europe and offshore wind power is taking off in countries like the UK, for example.
While it’s interesting to look back over the last 30 years (why not check out our timeline and classic photos from the archives?) EWEA is now looking forward to the next 30 years – where will wind power be by 2042? Will we be on track to a 100% renewable energy power sector by 2050 with wind power meeting 50% of that? Will the EU meet its goal of cutting carbon emissions by 80-95% compared to 1990 levels by 2050 by cleaning up its power sector? Let us know your thoughts on our Facebook page.
And, in September, EWEA’s magazine Wind Directions will publish analysis of the first 30 years, plus exclusive interviews and photos.
Zoë Casey, http://blog.ewea.org/