There is “significant uncertainty” over the growth in wind energy capacity in Europe over the next five years which threatens jobs and green targets in the region.
WindEurope warns if National Energy and Climate Plans (NECPs) are unambitious and permitting issues persist, Europe will install much less new wind capacity at just 67GW by 2023.
It says permitting issues are already leading to undersubscribed auctions – especially in Germany – and lower installation rates than expected.
However, if governments produce “clear and ambitious” NECPs, improve the permitting arrangements for wind farms and keep investing in new grid capacity, Europe’s wind energy installations could grow by 88GW to 277GW.
In addition, if permitting improves significantly and the NECPs are “super ambitious”, Europe could install 112GW over the next five years, WindEurope adds.
Annual volumes of new wind capacity could therefore be anywhere between 13GW and 22GW, with the uncertainty weighing heavily on the supply chain and could impact the significant cost reductions achieved in recent years.
Under all scenarios, more than three-quarters of the new installations are forecast to be onshore wind, with Spain, Sweden and Norway currently leading the growth.
Germany’s outlook remains uncertain for the rest of the period as it is installing much less this year than it traditionally has while France is expected to show continued steady growth in onshore wind.
The UK is forecast to account for 35% of the growth in offshore wind over the next five years, followed by the Netherlands and Germany.
WindEurope’s report suggests around 22GW of wind capacity will reach the end of its operational life by 2023, most of which will get a lifetime extension, with 2GW to be repowered and another 2GW to be fully decommissioned.
CEO Giles Dickson said: “Wind energy should be growing rapidly when you consider all the interest in climate change plus the fact the wind is the cheapest from of new power energy production. But there is real uncertainty about how far it’s going to expand in the next five years.
“It’s getting harder to secure permits for new wind farms in many countries. The grids and energy markets are still not functioning as they should. And many governments simply haven’t decided yet how much new wind they want and when and how they’re going to build it. The 2030 National Energy & Climate Plans will be crucial in bringing clarity and improvements in all these areas. If they’re not ambitious we won’t meet the 32% renewables target let alone any higher targets.
“And jobs are at stake here. The wind industry employs over 300,000 people in Europe but has lost 35,000 jobs in Germany alone over the last four years in large part because of public policy issues. The European Green Deal needs to include a clear industrial policy for Europe’s low carbon industries: supporting the success stories we’ve established; ensuring we can continue to trade with the rest of the world; and driving continued innovation to stay competitive.”