Security, jobs and autonomy – why we need our wind turbines to be made in Europe

On 14 September WindEurope CEO Giles Dickson spoke at the RES Serbia conference where he addressed Serbia’s trajectory towards building more wind energy. Crucially he addressed the need to use European-made technology. Chinese manufacturers are starting to win more and more orders – mainly in the Balkans right now.

Serbia recently organised its first wind energy auction. It was a good auction. And it had a good auction design too, with a two-sided Contract for Difference. It used a healthy price ceiling and it was fully subscribed. A good example for other countries. It is important the Serbian Government now gives clear visibility on future auctions, including timing and volume.

However, the biggest projects that won in the auctions will be built using Chinese turbines. This is not the way forward. We understand the temptation to procure non-European wind turbines. They are offered at a lower price than turbines made in Europe. They are offered with deferred payment terms that companies headquartered in OECD countries are not allowed to offer.

But what are the costs of procuring non-European turbines?

By turning our backs on equipment designed and manufactured in Europe we increase our dependency on equipment from outside of Europe. That undermines our energy security. And goes against the lessons learnt from our previous dependency on Russian gas.

Then there are the wider security interests. There are 300 sensors on a modern wind turbine. The data from those sensors should be stored and analysed exclusively in Europe.

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And there are the economic aspects. The European wind energy industry contributes €42bn a year to EU GDP. Every new European wind turbine we install generates on average €13m of economic activity. It is not in Europe’s collective interest to transfer those benefits outside of Europe.

It would also weaken the wind industry’s license to operate. As wind energy expands to cover what will be 2% of Europe’s land and 3% of our sea space, citizens expect that they will be getting something out of it economically.

To sum up, to install non-European wind turbines in Serbia or in any other country on our continent is not in Europe’s interests. The EU recognises this too. Commission President Ursula von der Leyen stated in her State of the European Union speech that: “The future of our clean tech industry has to be made in Europe.