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Wind Power In Europe: A Look To The Future

Energy Watch Group – an international network of scientists and parliamentarians – has produced a study on the growth, past forecasts and future prospects of wind energy. In this exclusive extract, Dr Rechsteiner focuses on the sector’s cumulative capacity forecasts for Europe…


Cumulative capacity forecasts and reality: Europe


Wind power net capacity additions over the last ten years have shown a mean growth rate of 30.4 per cent per year, corresponding to a doubling of net additions every 2.5 years. In 2007, net capacity additions reached 19553 Megawatts, a level that most energy pundits failed to anticipate. Net additions, in 2007, were 417 percent bigger than the mean estimate published by the International Energy Agency (IEA), in its World Energy Outlook 1995-2004 editions.


In the IEA’s most recent World Energy Outlook (2008) scenario, it again predicts a low growth “reference scenario” for wind power with only a 2.2 percent increase of annual wind capacity additions over the 2010-2030 period. The IEA acknowledges that the “risk of a supply crunch” for oil after 2010 could be driving up oil prices – possibly to new record highs”, but then fails to revise its forecasts for renewable energies. Not surprisingly, the IEA forecasts have historically proven to be empirically unsound.

This study takes a different view, developing four global scenarios for the future of wind power, after scrutinizing some of the most established forecasts for the wind sector. It assumes a continuous growth of global wind power additions over the next decades. The driving force for this growth is not ecological or moral motivations but the demonstrable economic advantages of wind power, including the abundant and cost free primary energy source (wind) which never runs out, easy technology access, short time to market, stable life-cycle-costs and continuous cost reductions due to progress on the learning curve.


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