Under mounting pressure, the European wind industry calls for action to keep the sector competitive


Feeling the pressure from regions that have ramped up investment in renewable energy, the European wind industry has put forward proposals on ways to keep competitive.

In the report “Making Transition Work”, WindEurope, the lobby group of the sector, said that the European Union should increase its renewable energy targets from 27 % to at least 30 % by 2030. The EU should also promote innovation to reduce costs and better integrate renewables in the energy system. These measure will offer stability and encourage more investment, according to the study.

The reasons of concern are twofold. First, outside Europe more than 70 countries made wind an important part of their strategy to comply with the 2015 climate agreement.

Second, an unstable regulatory framework has disrupted the European market in the past few years. Since 2013, new installations have declined in countries such as Italy, Portugal and Spain due to a “disordered transition of support mechanism.”

“New wind installations were down 9 % in the first half of 2016 year-on-year. The market for new onshore wind is increasingly concentrated in a small number of countries,” said Giles Dickson, CEO of WindEurope.

“Government policy on energy across Europe is less clear and ambitious than it was. Only 7 out of 28 EU Member States have targets and policies in place for renewables beyond 2020. We have dysfunctional electricity markets. The transition to auctions has been less smooth than it should have been. And we're lacking long-term signals for investment,” he continued. "China beats us on total volume and new installations, India on policy ambition, and the US in many areas of technology, especially on grid integration. We still have a competitive industry that's winning orders overseas. But we will lose that competitiveness if we don't have a strong domestic market."

The call comes as the European Commission plans to review the EU renewable energy directive. According to WindEnergy, the new document “should increase investor confidence by guaranteeing policy continuity at national level.”

WindEurope also wants a reform of the electricity markets to make them fit for more renewables. Electrification of other energy sectors, such as heating, cooling and transport, would increase demand for clean electricity. This is seen as the most effective way to reduce emissions in these areas.

Claudia Delpero

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