Wind-based electrification in a climate neutral Europe

WindEurope’s ‘Electric City’ event highlighted that wind-based electrification will account for half of the electricity produced in a climate neutral transition.

WindEurope’s 2021 annual event, “Electric City”, has begun today, 23 November. The three-day conference and exhibition will gather 400 exhibitors and over 7,000 participants in Copenhagen’s Bella Center to delve into the role of wind-based electrification in Europe’s future energy system. By establishing new partnerships beyond wind, Electric City aims to promote the use of wind energy across all sectors of Europe’s economy.

Renewables are currently 38% of all the electricity consumed in the EU, and that’s set to continue rising at a rapid rate. However, electricity is only one quarter of the energy we consume in Europe today. The EU wants to change that and aims to increase the share of electricity in the energy mix to 75% by 2050. They aim for 57% of energy consumption to be powered directly by electricity; and another 18% to come from renewable hydrogen and its derivatives.

Wind-based electrification in climate natural transition

Europe is likely to witness a surge in electricity demand as it transitions towards climate neutrality. In the EU, electricity demand is set to double from 3,000 TWh today to 6,800 TWh by 2050. Wind energy will be central to this transition. Currently, wind is 16% of Europe’s electricity mix, yet the EU intends for it to be 50% by 2050.

In a recent report, WindEurope highlighted that an energy system with a high share of renewables-based electrification will cost no more as a share of GDP than our largely fossil-based energy system currently costs. This will dramatically reduce the external costs not accounted for, notably air pollution and its effects on the environment and human health.

“Electrification is the cheapest and cleanest way to decarbonise our energy system”, explained WindEurope CEO, Giles Dickson. “Most processes that today rely on fossil fuels can transition to renewable electricity using existing technologies. Wind energy will play a central role in this. And that’s the focus of our annual WindEurope event which takes place this week in Copenhagen – how wind can help electrify transport, heating and industry. Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark will open it, and 10 Energy Ministers from around Europe are taking part”.

In order to electrify its energy system, the EU must increase its wind energy capacity to 1000 GW of onshore wind and 300 GW of offshore wind by 2050. Today, the combined total is only 180 GW. Meeting this target will require Europe to build double the amount of wind farms every year as it is producing today. To deliver this, it is essential to make the permitting rules and procedures for new wind farms more straightforward and ensure that permitting authorities are adequately staffed. Europe will not be able to deliver its electrification targets if it cannot improve permitting.

Electric City event

WindEurope’s 2021 annual event, “Electric City”, showcases the latest news in wind energy. It however also brings together those working to electrify transport, heating and industry. Event partners include Eurelectric, Hydrogen Europe, the European Association for Electromobility (AVERE), the European Heat Pump Association (epha) and the European Association for Storage of Energy (EASE).

“Renewable electricity, including offshore wind, is now cheaper than fossil sources,” said Rasmus Errboe, Senior Vice President and Head of Region, Continental Europe at Ørsted. “Now we need to find the space to build it, and customers to use it. I look forward to discuss planning, permitting and electrification at Electric City in Copenhagen”.

“Electrification will be key to drive growth across renewable energy, and with its proven track record, wind energy can provide a strong foundation for an electrified energy system,” added Javier Rodriguez Diez, Executive Vice President Sales at Vestas. “With our expertise and scale, Vestas is ready to do our part, by delivering the technology and industrial footprint required to build a truly sustainable energy system”.

Thomas Brostrøm, Senior Vice President Global Renewable Solutions at Shell further explained: “electrification is critical to achieving real change in the energy system and reaching the EU’s climate neutrality targets. At Shell, we are playing our part by building an integrated power business and we want to lead the way through system-wide collaboration and innovation to deliver cleaner power at scale. Offshore wind is critical to this mission and accelerating our transition to a net-zero emissions business”.

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