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Europe is not building enough new wind energy to reach its energy and climate targets. According to WindEurope’s Annual Statistics 2021, the EU built only 11 GW of new wind farms in 2021 and is set to build 18 GW a year over 2022-26. But the EU needs 30 GW a year of new wind to meet its 2030 renewables target.
The slow expansion rate is impacting on Europe’s wind energy supply chain. In a letter to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, WindEurope highlights the “poor health” of the European wind energy industry.
Europe as a whole installed 17.4 GW of new wind power in 2021, bringing its total installed capacity to 236 GW. The EU-27 installed 11 GW of new wind.
81% of the new wind capacity in Europe was onshore wind. The countries that built the most new wind last year were the UK, Sweden, Germany, Turkey and the Netherlands in that order. Sweden built the most onshore wind; the UK built the most offshore wind.
The WindEurope Annual Statistics also looks ahead to the period 2022-2026. We expect the EU to build on average 18 GW a year of new wind farms over the next five years. This is better than 2021 but still well below how much wind the EU should be building to meet its 40% renewable energy target for 2030.
Three quarters of the new installations over 2022-26 will still be onshore wind. Germany is expected to install the most new wind capacity over the next five years followed by the UK, France, Spain and Sweden.
Most EU countries have ambitious national targets for the expansion of wind energy. But permitting remains the main bottleneck. Europe is not permitting anything like the volumes of new wind farms needed. And almost none of the Member States meets the deadlines for permitting procedures required in the EU Renewable Energy Directive. The permitting rules and procedures are too complex. Permitting authorities are not always adequately staffed.
In a letter to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, WindEurope explains how the low volumes of permitted projects are impacting Europe’s wind turbine manufacturers and wider supply chain. And how the industry is also having to grapple with higher prices for steel and other commodities – and disrupted international supply chains. In 2021 four out of Europe’s five wind turbine manufacturers were operating at a loss.
The European Green Deal means urgent action on climate – and boosting jobs, innovation and energy security. Even before the current geopolitical crisis it was clear that Europe needs to rapidly expand renewables. The high energy prices of the last year only amplify this need. They show the dangers of Europe importing 58% of its energy and depending in particular on expensive fossil fuel imports - often from unreliable sources. They show that Europe’s industry and businesses urgently need more renewable energies “made in Europe” - not least because renewable energy is cheaper than fossil energy.
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