From 25-27 April European Energy Ministers, more than 14,000 participants and more than 500 exhibiting companies gather in Copenhagen for the WindEurope Annual Event 2023. The event comes at a pivotal point for the wind industry in Europe. The European Union wants to accelerate the build out of onshore and offshore wind to strengthen Europe’s energy security and ensure affordable electricity prices for Europe’s consumers. But the European supply chain is struggling with increasing input costs and supply chain bottlenecks. WindEurope 2023 explores which policies are needed to strengthen and expand the supply chain now.
The WindEurope Annual Event 2023 starts today in Copenhagen. This year’s edition will be the biggest WindEurope event so far. More than 14,000 participants and more than 500 exhibitors have confirmed their participation. They are joined by European Energy Ministers, industry leaders, investors, technology experts, NGOs and representatives of the military. His Royal Highness The Crown Price Frederik of Denmark will visit the WindEurope 2023 exhibition on the second day of the event.
Europe wants wind energy to strengthen energy security and ensure affordable prices
The European economy has been hit hard by COVID, the war in Ukraine and the energy crisis of 2022. It would have been tempting for European politicians to press pause on the energy transition. But the exact opposite happened: with REPowerEU the European Union doubled down on the expansion of competitive and home-grown wind energy. Under the revised renewables targets of 42.5% the EU now wants 420 GW of wind energy, up from 205 GW today.
To deliver on this target WindEurope 2023 conference focuses on 5 key challenges Europe needs to address now.
It’s time to accelerate the permitting of wind projects. Permitting is the main bottleneck for the expansion of wind energy. Currently 80 GW of wind energy are stuck in permitting across Europe. REPowerEU brought improvements. The build-out of wind energy is now in the overriding public interest. REPowerEU also proposed helpful changes to environmental permits and defined clear deadlines for permitting. These changes now need to be applied at national and local level. WindEurope 2023 will present a new software prototype to help permitting authorities mainstream and digitalise these processes.
It’s time to support and expand the wind supply chain. The wind energy supply chain is struggling. Investments in new wind farms were down in 2022. So were turbine orders. And Europe installed only half of the new wind it needs to deliver the targets. The European wind supply chain is too small to deliver on the big targets for 2030. The EU’s Net Zero Industry Act wants to ramp up Europe’s manufacturing capacity for wind turbines to 36 GW/year. This means investments in existing and new factories. But it also means investments in supportive infrastructure such as grids, ports, vessels – and in the skilled workforce needed to ensure that the energy transition is genuinely ‘made in Europe’. More than 500 students will attend WindEurope 2023 to get a first feeling about what working in the wind industry might be like.
More than ever, it’s time to think society and nature. Fighting climate change and biodiversity protection must go hand in hand. Non-price criteria in national auctions can help introduce innovative technology that will enhance nature protection in wind farms even further. More than 15 NGOs and numerous representatives of the military are coming to WindEurope 2023 to discuss the sustainable expansion of wind energy.
It’s time to accelerate grid build out and optimise the use of the electricity grid. Europe needs to double the rate of annual investments in its electricity grid. There is no use producing renewable electrons if they cannot reach the people and businesses that need to power. At WindEurope 2023 important projects towards a more interconnected European grid will be revealed.
It’s time to help electrify the economy. There are many sectors across the economy that are still relying heavily on fossil fuels. By 2050 the combined rate of direct and indirect electrification will be 75% of Europe’s energy demand. Up from around 25% today. Industries want to make sure they generate their new power with competitive renewables. WindEurope 2023 will be the place to meet for all of them.
Pål Eitrheim, Executive Vice President Renewables at Equinor, says: “It’s time to leverage collaboration to deliver on our industry’s purpose: providing energy. The war in Europe has shown us how fragile energy security can be. We need to build up sustainable supply chains capable of delivering unprecedented growth in wind power. Access to acreage, effective regulatory processes, control of inflation and healthy economic margins will all be required.”
Rasmus Errboe, Executive Vice President and CEO Europe at Ørsted, says: “It’s time for a new societal contract in offshore wind and renewable energy. Ørsted is ready to lead a market-driven buildout of wind energy based on fair competition and in respect of nature. The complexity we face should not stop us from taking the next step forward. Together, let’s open the path to progress.”
Sven Utermöhlen, CEO Offshore Wind at RWE, says: “It’s time to ramp up the European offshore wind supply chain on a large scale. What we need is a targeted action plan and cost-reflective offshore wind auction designs. Only with the right investment framework can offshore wind create valuable jobs in the future and deliver long-term low-price electricity.”
Javier Rodriguez Diez, Executive Vice President and CSO at Vestas Wind Systems, says: “It’s time to speed up permitting. More permitted wind projects can spark investment in scale, while faster permitting for industry and infrastructure can accelerate growth. For a future where European energy is more resilient, sustainable and secure, we need to start with solving our permitting challenge.”
The WindEurope Annual Event 2023 comes one day after 10 Heads of State and Government met in Ostend Belgium to agree a rapid build-out of offshore wind in the North Seas. More information here.