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Challenges and opportunities: WindEurope takes an in-depth look at the wind energy industry in the run-up to 2024


Permitting hurdles in Europe are crippling around 80 GW of wind capacity, with project developers waiting up to 9 years to obtain authorizations. The new regulations require authorizations to be expedited in 2 years for land projects and 6 months for repowering projects.

A European-wide digital permitting platform is being worked on as part of the Wind Energy Package, which aims to accelerate the authorization of wind energy projects. “Digital permitting processes will enable local authorities to work on several files at once and will shorten the overall duration of the permitting procedures”. This was expressed by Christoph Zipf, Press & Communications ManagerPress & Communications Manager at WindEurope.

In the same way, Zipfexplained to Review Energy that Europe's insufficient investment in its electricity grid is hindering wind energy deployment. This leads to congestion on the existing network, forcing some wind farms to waste generated electricity. Additionally, delayed grid expansion prevents new wind farms from connecting, risking the energy transition and supply chain in Europe.

Europe aims to boost offshore wind capacity to over 150 GW by 2030 from the current 30 GW. Achieving this requires a supply chain revamp, particularly in ports and installation vessels. "We need incentives for the green projects in ports for the integration of offshore wind,” he said.

Press & Communications ManagerPress & Communications Manager at WindEurope also explained that Governments must acknowledge offshore wind ports as critical on national and international levels, streamlining their development through expedited permitting. Incentivizing green projects in ports is crucial for integrating offshore wind, potentially positioning ports as primary players in the energy transition. Their proximity to storage and energy infrastructure makes them ideal for becoming green energy hubs, necessitating collaboration between the private sector, research institutions, and local governments to fully realize their potential.

For him, the European wind industry plans to train 200,000 more workers by 2030 to meet the increased demand, as national targets raise the need for skilled staff to over 500,000 jobs. Collaborating with policymakers, educational institutions, and promoting the industry's positive aspects aims to create effective training programs and enhance its attractiveness as an employer.

Following on from the statements on the recommendations to wind companies of Christoph Zipf went on to refer that it is clear that the region aims for a green industrial policy and local renewable production but lacks the necessary policies. “It wants renewables to be made in Europe. But it’s failing on the policies that will deliver that," Zipf said. Strengthening the Net-Zero Industry Act and supporting green supply chain expansion with public funding is crucial. Economic challenges hinder wind turbine manufacturers' investments in new capacities, risking dependence on non-European clean energy equipment. The wind sector, with 300,000 employees contributing €42bn to EU GDP in 2022, needs support to prevent potential shifts in energy dependency and ensure economic growth.

The EU and national Governments persist in their commitment to the energy transition, opting for a "green recovery" amid the COVID crisis and accelerating renewable deployment to bolster energy security during the 2022 gas crisis.

Europe remains an innovation epicenter, notably in the wind industry, driving groundbreaking engineering for net-zero goals. Advancements include vast offshore wind farms, grid flexibility solutions for renewable integration, cross-country hybrid wind projects, and inventive applications of renewable hydrogen. Europe's leadership in clean technology positions it as a top investment destination. According to Zip the outlook is positive "Europe will remain a front runner in clean tech. It’s the right place to invest".

With a view to 2024, the future of the wind energy industry, according to Zip, is: " the European elections to send an unmistakable signal that the Green Deal remains the leading vision of creating a more modern, more healthy and more competitive Europe. We want the EU Member States to fully implement the excellent actions laid out in the EU Wind Energy Package. And we want our European wind turbine manufacturers to overcome the temporary challenges caused by inflation and international supply chain disruptions and strengthen their profitability and competitiveness”.

The EU aims for renewables to constitute 45% of Europe's energy consumption by 2030, necessitating wind energy to more than double from 200 GW to 420 GW. To achieve this, installing 30 GW of new wind farms annually until 2030 is vital. Falling short of this target annually will escalate the need for turbines towards the decade's end. Although 2024 might not meet the 30 GW goal, it's crucial to pave the way for exceeding this threshold by decade's end, demanding resolute determination and substantial investments across Europe's wind energy supply chain.

His final reflections anticipate continued efforts in supply chain improvement, education, skills and electrification, culminating in the long-awaited Annual Event in Bilbao, which is expected to be a hub for innovation and collaboration.

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