Europe still on track to hit wind targets?

This will be just one of questions posed at the NG Power and Renewables EU Summit in Budapest (Hungary) next April. With wind power currently meeting around 5% of Europe’s electricity requirements and growing at a less than satisfactory rate, the answer to this question at present is: "maybe".

Over the past three decades, the cost of generating wind power has fallen by 80%, to a level where it is fully competitive with new coal power or gas power plants, and significantly cheaper than nuclear energy, in most European countries at the carbon and fuel prices.

As a result, the targets set during The Copenhagen Climate Treaty are more financially viable, as are the improvements in technology, turbine maintenance, energy transfer from turbine to grid and logistics and facilities management.

The European Union is fully expected to surpass its target to consume 20 percent of its energy from renewable energy sources by the year 2020, according to individual forecasts released by all 27 EU member states. Spain and Germany forecast the largest surpluses in 2020, predicting they will exceed their national renewable targets by 2.7 and 0.7 percentage points respectively.

Europe’s wind energy capacity has increased significantly in recent years, and has undoubtedly contributed to this achievement. “Wind energy has certainly moved into the mainstream as a power generating technology. The European market is $13 billion (€9.5 billion) annually out of a global market of some $50 billion (€36.7 billion). For the past two years, the EU has installed more wind energy capacity than any other power generating technology,” says Christian Kjaer, CEO of European Wind Energy Association.

In fact, wind power currently contributes around five percent of the EU electricity demand. However, wind power is only increasing its share by 0.5 percent every year, and if wind (and indeed, other renewables like solar and biofuel) are going to attain dominance over fossil alternatives the increases will need to come much quicker.

Some of the industry’s leading protagonists will meet at the NG Power and Renewables EU Summit in April to discuss this issue, as well as other relevant topics including the challenges of integrating renewables to the grid, the future role of nuclear power, utilities infrastructure, energy storage, carbon capture and storage, the future of solar energy and delivering a low carbon future.

Executives from top energy companies like E.ON, EDF, Enel Green Power, EWEA, and the European Renewable Energy Council will be on hand to discuss these matters in workshops, roundtables and Q&A sessions.

Despite the slowdown in the European wind industry, the future does look bright for wind energy as a legitimate and viable alternative to fossil fuel and as a complementary piece to other renewable alternatives.

“European wind farms are extremely reliable and operate with availabilities above 97%. In the last 25 years, turbines have increased in size by a factor of 300 (from 20 kW to 6,000 kW and beyond)” says Christian Kjaer. “At the same time, the engineering base and computational tools have developed to match machine size and volume. The rotor diameter of the largest turbines is 50 percent longer than the wingspan of the world’s largest aircraft – the Airbus A380.”

For additional information:

NG Power and Renewables EU Summit


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