The EU saw a significant increase in the installation of new wind farms in 2022, with 15GW being added, a third more than 2021, reports trade association WindEurope.
Germany, Sweden and Finland led the way in new generation capacity installed, followed by Spain and France. Of the new capacity, 90% was onshore, with most of these new onshore wind farms being built in greenfield sites.
Despite progress over the past year, the EU is still falling short of the amount of wind energy needed to meet its climate and energy security targets, WindEurope says. The EU is set to build 19.6GW a year of new capacity over 2022–26, but it needs to add 31GW a year to meet the objectives set out in the REPowerEU plan.
There was also a lack of repowering of older wind farms, which is a missed opportunity as, on average, repowering triples the output of a wind farm with one quarter fewer turbines, says WindEurope.
The main reason for lagging installations is permitting bottlenecks, with 80GW of wind energy projects currently stuck in permitting procedures across Europe.
“15GW new wind in 2022 is not too bad given the challenges faced last year by Europe’s wind industry," said WindEurope CEO Giles Dickson in a press statement. "It’s not enough for the EU’s energy targets, but governments know the latter can only be achieved if they simplify the permitting rules and procedures – and there are now signs of progress on this. Less encouraging is the slowdown in investments in new wind farms. Confusion about electricity market rules is turning investors away. The EU must make Europe an attractive place for renewables investments again.”
New investments in wind farms have decreased owing to a combination of inflation and government interventions in electricity markets, says the industry. In 2022, orders for new wind turbines were down 47% on 2021; the EU saw only 9GW worth of new turbine orders. The EU's upcoming electricity market design reform must give investors more regulatory clarity, WindEurope says.
The wind energy industry has also been affected by supply chain constraints such as difficulties in obtaining materials and components in 2022. This is leading some investors to choose to invest in other countries like the US and Australia.
Editor's note: The data visual in this piece was updated on 28 February to reflect new data from WindEurope estimating that 19.6GW of new wind capacity will be built in the EU every year for the next five years, up from a previous forecast of 18GW, and that 31GW annually will be necessary to meet the EU's goals for 2030, down from the previous forecast of 39GW.