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Europe nears 2030 wind energy target, but electrical grids emerge as the new bottleneck

In a report released by WindEurope, it is highlighted that the European Union is on track to achieve its ambitious 2030 wind energy target, thanks to improvements in permitting and a substantial increase in investments. However, the most significant threat to this accelerated expansion now lies in the urgent need to expand onshore and offshore electrical grids.

In 2023, the European Union installed a record 16.2 GW of new wind energy capacity, with 79% coming from onshore installations and over 1 GW from the repowering of old turbines. Germany led the list of new projects, followed by the Netherlands and Sweden.

The report reveals that the share of wind energy in the EU's total electricity consumption in 2023 was 19%, while renewables as a whole accounted for 42%. Denmark led with an impressive 56% share of wind energy in its electricity mix.

Despite these advancements, the biggest hurdle now is the timely expansion of onshore and offshore electrical grids, according to the report. To reach the 2030 target, the EU needs to install an average of 29 GW of wind capacity each year until 2030, bringing the total capacity to 393 GW. However, 425 GW is required to meet Europe's climate and energy targets.

Grid expansion bottleneck

The report highlights that 2023 brought significant improvements in critical areas for wind energy expansion, such as the permitting process and investments. However, grid connection queues are causing delays in the timely connection of new wind farms, jeopardizing the commissioning of these projects.

While the European Union has acknowledged this issue with its Grids Action Plan, the report urges its implementation to become a top energy priority for both the current and incoming European Commission, as well as for all national governments.

"Things are looking up again for wind in Europe," says Giles Dickson, CEO of WindEurope. "However, to reach the goal of 35% wind energy by 2030, we must accelerate the build-out of grids to connect all the new wind farms."

The report's overview also reveals that Europe is expected to install 260 GW of new wind power capacity from 2024 to 2030, with the EU-27 aiming for 200 GW. However, to meet 2030 climate targets, the EU needs to increase its annual installation rate to 33 GW, resulting in a projected 30 GW shortfall.

Source: WindEurope

In 2023, Europe added 18.3 GW of wind capacity, led by Germany, the Netherlands, and Sweden. Denmark and Ireland had the highest wind share in their electricity mix at 56% and 36%. Eight other countries had at least 20% of their electricity demand met by wind.

Anticipated offshore wind installations will increase, reaching 393 GW by 2030, falling short of the 425 GW target, but overall wind power capacity in Europe is expected to exceed 500 GW.


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