Wind will be half of electricity in a climate neutral Europe
WindEurope’s 2021 annual event, “Electric City”, starts today. The three-day conference and exhibition will gather 400 exhibitors and more than 7,000 participants in Copenhagen’s Bella Center to explore the role of wind-based electrification in Europe’s future energy system. By establishing new partnerships beyond wind, “Electric City” aims to promote the use of wind energy across all sectors of Europe’s economy.
Renewables are now 38% of all the electricity consumed in the EU, and that’s set to keep rising rapidly. But electricity is only one quarter of the energy we consume in Europe today. The EU wants to change that. The EU Commission aims to increase the share of electricity in the energy mix to 75% by 2050: with 57% of energy consumption being powered directly by electricity; and another 18% coming from renewable hydrogen and its derivatives.
Europe is going to see a surge in electricity demand as it transitions towards climate neutrality. In the EU electricity demand will more than double from 3,000 TWh today to 6,800 TWh by 2050. And wind energy will be central to this transition. Today wind is 16% of Europe’s electricity mix. The EU want it to be 50% by 2050.
In a recent report, WindEurope showed that an energy system with a high share of renewables-based electrification will cost no more as a share of GDP than our largely fossil-based energy system costs today. And it will dramatically reduce external costs not accounted for today, notably air pollution and its effects on the environment and human health.
“Electrification is the cheapest and cleanest way to decarbonise our energy system. Most processes that today rely on fossil fuels can transition to renewable electricity using existing technologies. Wind energy will play a central role in this. And that’s the focus of our annual WindEurope event which takes place this week in Copenhagen – how wind can help electrify transport, heating and industry. Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark will open it, and 10 Energy Ministers from around Europe are taking part”, says WindEurope CEO Giles Dickson.
To electrify its energy system, the EU needs to increase its wind energy capacity to 1000 GW of onshore wind and 300 GW of offshore wind by 2050. Up from a combined total of only 180 GW today. That requires Europe to build twice as many new wind farms every year as it is building today. To deliver that it’s essential to simplify the permitting rules and procedures for new wind farms. And ensure permitting authorities are adequately staffed. Europe won’t deliver its electrification targets if it cannot improve permitting.
As ever WindEurope’s 2021 annual event, “Electric City”, showcases what’s happening in wind energy. But it also brings together those working to electrify transport, heating and industry. Event partners include Eurelectric, Hydrogen Europe, the European Association for Electromobility (AVERE), the European Heat Pump Association (epha) and the European Association for Storage of Energy (EASE).
“Renewable electricity, including offshore wind, is now cheaper than fossil sources. Now we need to find the space to build it, and customers to use it. I look forward to discuss planning, permitting and electrification at Electric City in Copenhagen”, says Rasmus Errboe, Senior Vice President and Head of Region, Continental Europe at Ørsted.
“Electrification will be key to drive growth across renewable energy, and with its proven track record, wind energy can provide a strong foundation for an electrified energy system. With our expertise and scale, Vestas is ready to do our part, by delivering the technology and industrial footprint required to build a truly sustainable energy system”, says Javier Rodriguez Diez, Executive Vice President Sales at Vestas.
“Electrification is critical to achieving real change in the energy system and reaching the EU’s climate neutrality targets. At Shell, we are playing our part by building an integrated power business and we want to lead the way through system-wide collaboration and innovation to deliver cleaner power at scale. Offshore wind is critical to this mission and accelerating our transition to a net-zero emissions business”, says Thomas Brostrøm, Senior Vice President Global Renewable Solutions at Shell.