Europe’s land ‘could hold enough wind turbines to power world until 2050’

Researchers have identified every potentially feasible location of onshore wind energy in the region

Big Zero Report 2022

Europe could produce more than 100 times the amount of energy it currently generates if it maximised its land use for onshore wind farms.

That’s according to new analysis, which has identified every potentially feasible location of onshore wind energy in the region to highlight how much untapped potential there is that could be explored, which it claims could supply power for the whole world until 2050.

Researchers from the UK’s University of Sussex and Denmark’s Aarhus University reveal if all of Europe’s capacity for onshore wind farms was realised, the installed capacity would total 52.5TW – equivalent to 1MW for every 16 Europeans.

Their analysis of geographical information system (GIS)-based wind atlases identified around 46% of Europe’s territory suitable for the installation of onshore wind farms.

It estimates more than 11 million additional wind turbines could theoretically be installed over almost five million square kilometres of suitable area, which would adequately meet the expected global energy demand in 2050.

The authors identified Turkey, Russia and Norway as having the greatest potential for future wind power density although large parts of Western Europe were also considered suitable for further onshore farms because of favourable wind speeds and flat areas.

Benjamin Sovacool, Professor of Energy Policy at the University of Sussex and co-author of the study said: “The study is not a blueprint for development but a guide for policymakers indicating the potential of how much more can be done and where the prime opportunities exist. Our study suggests that the horizon is bright for the onshore wind sector and that European aspirations for a 100% renewable energy grid are within our collective grasp technologically.

“Obviously, we are not saying that we should install turbines in all the identified sites but the study does show the huge wind power potential right across Europe which needs to be harnessed if we’re to avert a climate catastrophe.”

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