Wind lobby wants EU action

RENEWABLE lobby groups have called for greater clarity for the sector after EU Energy Union vice president Maros Sefcovic said the European Commission must take "necessary measures" to ensure member states meet a renewable energy target of at least 27% by 2030.
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Haydn Black

Reporter

Delivering his State of the Energy Union address last week, Sefcovic said the EC was prepared to introduce policies to force compliance if its member states do not step up to the plate to hit the 2020 targets.

That led to an immediate call from the European Wind Energy Association for the EU to define the circumstances under which it would intervene and how such measures would be enshrined in the new Renewable Energy Directive

"It is imperative that the commission takes a strong stance to guarantee that EU countries meet the collective commitment on deploying renewable technologies such as wind energy," EWEA CEO Giles Dickson said, with the intention of transforming the union's intent into action.

Dickson said it was vital for EU members to do their share over the next 15 years so the region can maintain a global leadership in renewables, and he reiterated the EWEA's belief that wind power could easily overtake coal and gas as Europe's largest power source by 2030.

Today renewable energy contributes around $200 million per annum to the European economy and some $51 billion to export revenues, with Europe's wind turbine manufacturers having a 40% share of the global markets outside the EU.

"A strong and vibrant home market is essential for European manufacturers to maintain their cost competitiveness in the rapidly growing wind markets of India, China, Brazil and elsewhere. If policymakers fail to deliver, it will be to the detriment of investments, jobs and economic growth in Europe," Dickson said.

To give certainty to investors, EWEA wants to see EU members set their targets by the end of 2017, and if national contributions do not meet the overall 27% target it wants the EC to broker cooperation between neighbouring member states, particularly with those that have failed to make sufficient pledges.

If that fails, it wants a program under which countries with low contributions pledge to an EU-wide fund for the development of renewable energies.

Total wind installations in Europe could reach 392 gigawatts with 294GW of onshore and 98GW of offshore wind by 2030.

Today, Europe's 128.8GW can meet 10% of European power consumption in a normal wind year.

A recent EWEA report said for that to happen Europe needs to not only develop the national renewable energy action plans but streamline national permitting procedures; propose legislation for well-functioning energy markets and drive reform of the Emissions Trading System.

Far from imposing costs on the European economy, these measures will result in a net gain of some $20 billion, the equivalent of the EU's funding for transport infrastructure over the next five years, Dickson said.

The wind industry would also support up to 366,000 direct and indirect jobs.

"Already onshore wind is cheaper than any form of new power generation. Last year wind power installed more than gas and coal combined in the EU. Europe's energy and economic transition is underway. Now politicians must decide whether to accelerate this transition or drag their heels, which would damage investments and job creation," he said.

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