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Wind / 23. August

Winds of Change

In the attempt to include more wind into the renewable energy mix, Europe and the world are analyzing possibilities, proposing plans and setting benchmarks for 2030. Governments and institutions are taking bold policy steps in order to make the ultimate shift from fossil fuels to clean energy alternatives. Blueprints for moving forward to hit clear targets in cost efficient wind energy production and consumption have now been drawn. However, it remains to be seen how environmental and economic situations evolve and how these factors affect or change current goals. The European Commission, the IEA and the EWEA have each expressed their views on how this could possibly play out within the European Union.

Wind energy scenarios 2030 – How to reach them

In 2014, the European Union put forth legislative policy to achieve a minimum of 27% of overall energy consumption coming from renewable sources by the year 2030. The new policy, however, did not set individual national targets, causing confusion as to how Member States would be held accountable to contributing to the bigger EU goal and the ability of the European Commission (EC) to manage such a result.

According to the European Commission, 46-49% of electricity would have to be generated by renewable sources in order to reach the overall 27% energy consumption figure. In its 2013 Impact Assessment for a 2030 Climate and Energy Policy Framework, the EC singled out wind energy to bear the brunt of that electricity production, supplying at least 21% of the 46-49% milestone. That said, it is still unclear as to how each Member State would set and enforce wind policy and how wind power installations should be distributed among them.

In order for Europe to fulfill its wind energy potential, committed leaders, government authorities and investors across the EU must provide the critical long-term vision and sound strategies to develop, deploy and support wind energy installations amid regulatory uncertainty and a sluggish European economy. Experts from the EC, the IEA and the EWEA have therefore presented wind energy development scenarios depicting different points of view and road maps leading to varying levels of success.

Different scenarios, one goal for wind energy in 2030
In its 2013 reference scenario, the European Commission expects the EU economy to grow steadily until 2030 after recovering from recent crisis. This scheme also speculates that no international deal on climate change will soon be reached and that no changes will be made to the 2030 targets already in place for carbon emissions reduction, renewable energy levels and energy efficiency mandates. It also takes the position that Member States will fully reach their 2020 goals and that cross-border cooperation will lower the cost of renewable energies. Within this scenario, the EC anticipates a total of 305 GW of wind energy capacity to be installed by 2030, representing an increase of 176 GW from the end of 2014.

Similar to the European Commission Reference Scenario, the IEA 450 Scenario of 2014 does not foresee any action to be taken on international climate change policy before 2020. The IEA formula, however, includes fully-developed policy for limiting the increase in global temperature to 2⁰C as well as additional policies restricting construction of inefficient coal power plants and the partial phasing out of EU fossil fuels subsidies. The IEA strategy also takes more aggressive policies such as reasonable CO₂ pricing and the global elimination of all fossil fuel subsidies into consideration. In their view, the IEA expects to see an overall increase of 163 GW resulting in 292 GW of wind energy capacity installed throughout the European Union by 2030.

In contrast to the EC and the IEA perspectives, the EWEA central scenario presents a more positive outlook. This scenario assumes that clear regulation and Member State progress reporting are implemented and that a means of effective cross-border cooperation is introduced to provide an environment in which the EU hits its 27% renewable sources target by 2030. It also accounts for a new and improved power market, designed to provide wind and other renewables higher penetration possibilities and to strengthen power interconnection infrastructures. Within this situation, the Emission Trading System (ETS) has been reformed to increase efficiency and promote stable pricing. All of these factors contribute to offshore wind cost reduction objectives being met in 2020 and even further discounted by 2030. In the EWEA Central Scenario, over 320 GW of wind energy capacity is installed by 2030 with 254 GW coming from onshore sources and 66 GW from offshore installations to total 778 TWh of wind-generated electricity. This is equal to 24.4% of the entire electricity demand projected in the European Commission Reference Scenario.

In addition to its central scenario, the EWEA has prepared supplemental contrasting perspectives responding to lower and higher expectations.

Wind energy on the rise

In the EWEA low scenario, regulation is not complete, the 27% renewables target is missed, the new market design cannot guarantee renewables higher penetration in order to reduce costs, power connections between Member States do not progress, ETS reform does not succeed and the cost reduction objectives of 2020 are not met. Both total wind energy capacity as well as total electricity produced from wind sources are respectively 22% lower than seen in the Central Scenario. When compared, the EWEA Low Scenario predicts 18% less capacity than the European Commission Scenario and 14% less than that of the IEA 450 Scenario while electricity generated by wind energy is 21% lower than EC expectations and 14% lower than IEA forecasts.

The EWEA high scenario paints yet another picture. Here, efficient regulation is in place and operating efficiently, the 27% renewables target is exceeded, the power connection network is developed beyond expectation, the new market design and ETS are eliminating fossil fuels power plants and providing sustainable renewable energies development and all wind markets grow to facilitate efficient pan-European operations, new on-shore maintenance strategies and the construction and operation of offshore wind installations. Wind energy capacity is 23% higher than that in the Central Scenario while wind-generated electricity spikes by 27%. Given optimal regulatory and economic conditions, the EWEA High Scenario projects EU wind power capacity to be 28% higher than EC prognosis and 34% higher than IEA predictions. In this flawless scenario, electricity coming from wind energy sources would fill 31% of EU demand by 2030.

Because perfect scenarios in which expectations are routinely exceeded without man-made crisis or natural disaster rarely exist, it is important to consider the “what ifs” in conflicting situations. These contrasting outlooks tell different stories and end in different outcomes to ultimately encourage more realistic and obtainable goals which can be effectively managed and successfully reached. The European Union has set sail to draw 27% of its energy consumption from renewable energy sources. Along with strong winds, they will need strong leaders working together under strong policy with 2030 looming on the horizon.

With increasing efficiency and falling costs, renewable energy sources are in demand globally. To obtain more information about our wind energy services  please contact one of our experts.  

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