Wind Energy Growth in Europe Seen Slower After Policy Changes

  • Forecast for 2030 cut 20% by European Wind Energy Association
  • Installations employing 334,000 worth $534 billion by 2030

Europe’s wind power industry will grow substantially slower than anticipated over the next 15 years because changes to the region’s climate and energy policies have unsettled investors, an industry group said.

The European Wind Energy Association slashed by 20 percent its forecast for the industry’s capacity to generate electricity in 2030. It estimated Europe will have 320 gigawatts of wind power installed by then, down from its former estimate of 400 gigawatts. Turbines will meet 25 percent of the continent’s electricity demand instead of the 30 percent expected before.

The findings in a report issued Wednesday follow a European Union decision to reform its emissions-trading system, overhauls the electricity market and establish a new target for renewables. Policymakers also are placing a greater emphasis on energy security, which may undercut some of their zeal to reach targets on reducing greenhouse gases.

The impact of the policy changes won’t be known for years in some cases, reducing the visibility investors have over the scale of support the the technology will enjoy.

“Long-term visibility and stable frameworks remain crucial for wind energy deployment. The lack of such stability would mean that Europe will not tap wind energy’s full potential as it has been witnessed in stalled growth of certain emerging markets,” the report said.

The European Wind Energy Association projects that the EU’s wind energy industry’s installations will be worth 474 billion euros ($534 billion) by 2030 and that it will provide 334,000 direct and indirect jobs.

“Our forecasts are still optimistic,” said Oliver Joy, a spokesman for the European Wind Energy Association. “We expect Europe to more than double the current installed capacity of wind energy by 2030.”

The forecasts are broadly in line with what the IEA and European Commission expect, Joy said. The group has also taken into account the prolonged economic downturn in Europe and its effect on power demand and wholesale electricity prices.

The slow recovery has held back investment plans, new orders and the financial health of existing wind assets, it said.

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