Wind energy is booming across Europe, but the continent risks being outshone by China as some EU countries fail to offer long term certainty to investors.
Wind power now meets over 11 per cent of the Europe’s energy demand, according to new figures released by the European Wind Energy Association, and accounted for 44 per cent of all new power installations in 2015 – more than any other form of energy.
But while momentum continues to build for cheap, clean wind locally, globally, the European Union is being piped to the post by China, where policies to reduce dependence on coal and clean up its cities’ air have driven a dramatic increase in clean energy.
With just six of the 28 EU states having clear renewable targets or policies in place post-2020, Europe could miss out on even more investment and find itself lagging behind its emerging economy rivals at a time where it should be leading the unstoppable transition towards a 100 per cent renewable future.
- Smart money is investing in wind. As costs come down, wind power – particularly onshore wind – is becoming cheaper than fossil fuel power generation across Europe. Meanwhile, as clean energy booms globally, investors are fleeing from fossil fuels towards renewables, with €26.4 billion being pumped into the wind industry alone last year, with both onshore and offshore projects reaching record levels of capital.
- Smart governments are cashing in on this investment. Germany continues to lead the way with the biggest market for wind power – accounting for 47 per cent of new installations last year – but drastic cuts to renewables support have left others, such as the UK and Spain falling down the leaderboard. And with mixed results across the continent, China overtook the EU to take the global wind power top-spot in 2015.
- Europe can continue to reap renewable rewards, but stable policy is crucial. Despite a record year for wind, total clean energy investment fell to a eight-year low in 2015, with Europe once again losing out to China. As ambitious renewables projects are announced from India to Africa, there is a “question mark by the EU’s goal to be No. 1 in renewables” unless it ensures reliable and ambitious climate and energy policies well into the future.