Delegates left the European Wind Energy Conference 2009 (EWEC) last week with the reminder that wind energy is Europe’s number one in terms of new power capacity ringing in their ears.
“In 2008, we installed 8,454 MW of wind capacity, making up 36% of power installations”, stressed Arthouros Zervos, President of the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA). “That was more than any other power generating technology. There are good reasons for the wind sector’s top spot: the range of benefits it offers to European citizens is unmatched by any other energy source”.
There is now a total of 65 GW of wind power in the EU, which will, in a normal wind year, produce 142 TWh of electricity, equal to about 4.2% of the EU’s electricity demand. Wind energy is fuel free and so avoids volatile fuel and carbon costs. In 2008, while the oil price shot up to €147 and came unsteadily down again, wind power avoided fuel costs of €5.4 billion and CO2 costs of €2.4 billion. Furthermore, increasing the use of wind diminishes our reliance on fuel imports from unstable regions – currently, Europe imports 54% of its energy, and this is set to grow to 70% by 2030. The money pouring out of Europe to satisfy our thirst for fuels must instead be invested in indigenous and infinite power sources.
The EU has a leadership position in renewable energy. By consolidating its expertise, it can provide technology exports to other countries, boosting its global standing and economy. “In 2007, EU manufacturers installed 66% of new turbines globally,” Zervos pointed out. A wind turbine emits no CO2 or other pollutants, and over its 20-year life it will produce 80-120 times more energy than it consumes. Europe’s wind energy avoided the emission of 108 million tonnes of C02 in 2008 – equal to 31% of the EU-15’s Kyoto obligations and the equivalent of taking more than 50 million cars off the roads.
“These figures demonstrate why wind is the first choice when it comes to new power installations, and why the sector has cause to celebrate at events such as EWEC,” concluded Zervos. “EWEA’s new 230 GW target for 2020 is one more example of the industry’s confidence and the growing recognition of what wind power can offer European citizens.”
In total at EWEC 2009 there were over 7,500 participants, made up of 1,900 delegates and 5,600 exhibition visitors. The exhibition covered 10,000m2 and featured 390 companies, making it three times bigger than the exhibition at EWEC 2008 in Brussels.