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6 April 2022

Data insight: The 2030 European wind gap

The EU is set for 360GW of wind power by 2030 – which is about 20% below what is required for it to meet its 2030 climate targets.

By Nick Ferris

Ahead of WindEurope’s annual conference in Bilbao, Spain, the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) released its Global Wind Report 2022. The findings were stark: while the 94GW of capacity added globally in 2021 represents the second-largest growth on record, it remains well off the massive scale-up that is required.

Annual capacity additions need to quadruple by 2030, or global capacity will be 36% below what is needed to be on track for net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by mid-century.

Record growth in Europe, Latin America and Africa was offset by a 19.9% fall in annual Chinese capacity additions and a 4.2% fall in the US. Even in Europe, booming capacity additions are not enough for the continent to be on track to climate neutrality.

Data from GlobalData, Energy Monitor‘s parent company, shows that under current plans, the EU is set for 360GW of wind power by 2030. This figure is around 20% below the 433–452GW that is required for the EU to reduce emissions by 55% by 2030, relative to 1990 levels, and be on track for net zero by mid-century.

More broadly, the European Commission has estimated that 68% of electricity generation will have to be renewable by 2030 for the EU to meet its climate goals. Data from GlobalData shows the EU is not on track for this either: renewables generation was at 30% in 2021 and is currently on track to increase to 45% by 2030.

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GlobalData’s analysis of upcoming wind projects finds wind generation in the EU is set to increase from 15% to 26% of total power generation between 2021 and 2030. This 73% growth rate in market share would be impressive but not enough for wind to meet the EU’s decarbonisation requirements.

WindEurope calculates that the EU needs to install some 25GW of new onshore wind and 8GW of new offshore wind, on average, per year, over the period 2022–26 for the bloc to be on track for its 55% emissions reduction target.

GlobalData estimates that average annual capacity additions over the period will be 11GW for onshore wind and 3GW for offshore wind – both figures are well short of what is required.

Yet as more recently announced projects come online towards the end of the decade, there is set to be an uptick in growth. Based on current plans, the average annual capacity addition for onshore and offshore wind from 2027–30 is due to be 14GW for onshore and 11GW for offshore.

This uptick in capacity additions could increase further as yet more projects are announced and the European energy transition gathers pace. The war in Ukraine is adding impetus to EU climate plans, with countries including Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Greece, Latvia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Spain all now saying they want Europe’s energy transition to speed up.

New green policies announced in recent weeks include the Netherlands doubling its planned offshore wind capacity by 2030, France ending subsidies for gas heaters, and Italy planning the Mediterranean’s first offshore wind farm.

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