The European Wind Energy Association has announced that the EU successfully reached 100 gigawatts of installed wind-energy capacity, or the equivalent of 62 coal-fired power stations.
Interestingly, the EU’s 27-nation bloc had taken 20 years to hit just 10 gigawatts, but after that, it added 90 gigawatts in barely 13 years. The EU has sworn to reduce CO2 emissions by 20 percent from 1990 levels by 2020, and it has committed itself to renewable energy installation across the board.
Growth has been firmly supported by extensive government incentives, including above-market rates paid to renewable power operators.
“It would require burning 72 million tons of coal annually in coal-fired power plants to match Europe’s annual wind-energy production,” EWEA Chief Executive Officer Christian Kjaer said in the statement. “Loading that amount of coal on trains would require 750,000 wagons with a combined length of 11,500 kilometers (7,150 miles) — the distance from Brussels to Buenos Aires.”
Danish Dong Energy A/S and the French-owned EDF Energies Nouvelles have contributed significantly to helping the EU reach this milestone.
In the U.K., which is now the world’s biggest market for marine wind farms, renewable power generation from wind exceeded 2.5 gigawatts for the first time this month. Now that the 317-megawatt Sheringham Shoal project off the coast of Eastern England is operational, Britain currently has 2.67 gigawatts of offshore wind turbines, adequate to power 1.8 million households.
In the second quarter, wind turbines provided 4.5 percent of the U.K.’s total power needs, while comparable figures for the EU were around 5 percent last year. More than half came from conventional fuels, but 28 percent originated from nuclear and 13 percent from hydropower sources.