Blowing in the Wind: State of Play and projections for offshore and onshore wind energy in the EU

Posted on October, 05 2023

Ahead of the Commission’s wind energy package, WWF’s new report “Blowing in the Wind” presents an in-depth analysis of the state of play on wind energy in the EU. The report concludes that Member States’ projections are broadly in line with the new Renewable Energy Directive (RED) target of 42.5%. Nevertheless, challenges remain as Member States will have to more than double their wind energy capacity (in GW) and triple their annual deployment, from 16 GW in 2022, to 44 GW in 2030. On top of that only 10 Member States’ projections are in line with the Paris Agreement Compatible (PAC) scenario to limit global warming to 1.5°C.
The recent announcement by Commission President Ursula von der Leyen of a new ‘Wind Package’ during her State of the European Union (EU) emphasised again the need for the expansion of wind energy and put the spotlight on the problems the sector is facing. Earlier this year the EU agreed on a newly revised Renewable Energy Directive (RED) which includes a higher renewable energy target (RET) of 42.5%. This increase implies that Member States will have to more than double their wind energy capacity (in GW) by 2030.

While that would represent a step in the right direction and an opportunity to create thousands of new jobs, this is a big increase which will create challenges for Member States. Analysis shows that Member States would have to triple their current annual level of wind deployment, from 16 GW installed in 2022, to 44 GW in 2030. WWF believes this can only be achieved through holistic planning for nature and people.

Unfortunately, reaching this new RED target will not be enough to stay in line with the Paris Agreement and limit global warming to under 1.5°C. This is shown in the report by the Paris Agreement Compatible (PAC) energy scenario and Ember New Generation modelling - which are both in line with WWF’s recommendations of 50% renewable energy by 2030. In fact, the report compared the compatibility of Member States’ ambitions with the PAC scenario and found that only 10 Member States are in line with this scenario. These countries are: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, The Netherlands, Portugal and Sweden.

To achieve any of these goals, Member States will need to overcome significant challenges, from the need to win local public support to expanding grid infrastructure, and speeding up permitting processes - in particular by increasing administrative capacity in competent authorities. While the deployment of wind energy needs to be massively accelerated, the transition towards 100% renewable energy should not come at the expense of nature or exploit the weakening of environmental legislation. Several studie have already outlined that it is possible to achieve targets in a nature-friendly way.
WWF Report: Blowing in the Wind
© Hans Linde & Imré Sebestyén