Friday

16th Nov 2018

Focus

EU wind policies: never enough of a good thing

  • Commission HQ in Brussels - campaigners want Brussels to put its money where its mouth is (Photo: European Commission)

The European Commission is fond of saying how important wind is as a renewable energy source - but critics says its words are not matched by funding.

There are no EU targets for any specific renewable energy source. Instead, green goals agreed by member states suggest that by 2020, renewable energy sources should account for 20 percent of the bloc’s total energy demand.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The target is part of the overarching Europe 2020 economic strategy for the coming decade and is laid out in a 2009 directive on renewable energy.

The directive commits member states to binding individual targets, taking into account their respective potential for generating renewable energy (some places are sunnier or windier than others), but leaves them free to choose a mix of renewable energy sources, with wind as only one of many alternatives.

"The commission is energy neutral," says Nicole Bockstaller, spokesperson for EU energy commissioner Gunther Oettinger. "We don't care how member states reach their target, as long as they do [it]."

Transposition of the directive into national law is proving difficult. It was due by early December 2010, but until now, not one member state has presented the commission with adequate national legislation.

Meanwhile, the EU is already looking further ahead.

"There should be an interesting discussion on binding targets for renewables by 2030," said Oettinger in December last year. "This should begin now and lead to a decision in two years' time."

Oettinger made the comment after the presentation of a commission road map outlining several scenarios that would cut carbon emissions by over 80 percent by the year 2050. "Irrespective of the particular energy mix chosen" - the document says - "important rising shares of renewables are necessary."

Energy neutral?

Funding, too, is supposed to be neutral. But big differences exist in the allocation of research and innovation funds among the different energy technologies.

The commission does not equally distribute the €3 billion reserved from 2007 to 2013 among the different non-nuclear, clean energy technologies, but rather grants funding on a project-by-project basis.

The share of the pie awarded to wind energy projects, so far, is six percent - not as little as hydro (0%) or geothermal (1%), but not nearly as much as solar (14%) or bio-fuels (14%).

Funding for research into nuclear energy amounts to over €2.7 billion for the same period.

"I don't understand it," says Vilma Radvilaite, budget analyst at the European Wind Energy Association, the Brussels-based lobby of the European wind industry. She says that there were more than enough project applications: "Never was there a shortage of project proposals."

The next funding period - from 2014 to 2020 - should provide some consolation, as the money going to non-nuclear, clean energy is to more than double uncder current plans. But despite this, the industry says it remains "severely underfunded" in light of the 2020 targets.

"The commission has missed an opportunity to make its R&D budget reflect new European priorities," said Radvilaite after the announcement of the new budget.

There are other sources of EU funding.

The commission's department for regional policy has reserved €780 million for wind energy projects from 2007 to 2013. In 2009, the energy department awarded €565 million to nine offshore wind energy projects - a one-time decision to help the economy to recover.

The commission favours generating wind energy offshore, as opposed to onshore. At sea, it argues, there is more wind, more space, and no neighbours to take offence at the often 100-plus-metre-high turbines.

Most of its funding goes to offshore projects and, even though the installation of turbines on sea, while growing fast, is only a fraction of that of onshore, the commission believes that by 2020 it will have increased 30- or even 40-fold.

Wind farms and 'clean coal' projects scoop EU funds

The offshore wind and carbon capture sector received a boost on Wednesday when the European Commission selected 15 projects at the cutting edge of energy technologies to receive €1.5 billion in EU funding.

Denmark leads EU countries on wind energy

European wind energy is picking up as recently released statistics by the European Wind Energy Association show an upward spike in the number of wind farms created, amount invested, and energy generated.

Germany to cut solar energy subsidies

Germany's solar power industry could cool as Berlin plans to cut subsidies in a sector whose energy capacity output has successfully more than doubled the government’s projected target.

Wind Energy

Europe is the world's biggest fan of wind energy. But other parts of the world, notably China, are catching up fast. EUobserver explores the issues in this section.

Sahara wind and sun to power EU homes

This year, somewhere in Morocco, work will begin on the construction of what is to become a vast network of solar and wind energy farms in the Sahara to provide 15 percent of Europe's electricity.

Wind energy: Good or bad?

It is not all roses in the world of wind energy. Opposite to those who believe it is the key to a future of renewable clean energy, there are those who believe it is "the work of the devil."

News in Brief

  1. US warns EU banks and firms against trading with Iran
  2. Merkel urged Romania not to move embassy to Jerusalem
  3. Protesters call for Czech leader to step down
  4. Former German chancellor labelled 'enemy' of Ukraine
  5. French lead opposition to Brexit deal on fisheries
  6. Private accounts of Danske Bank employees investigated
  7. UK's May defends Brexit deal to MPs, after ministers resign
  8. Brexit MP calls for 'no confidence' vote on May

Asylum for Macedonia's ex-PM puts Orban on spot

Authorities in Budapest confirmed the former prime minister of Macedonia, fleeing a jail sentence in his own country, has filed for asylum. Despite Hungary's strict asylum laws, the pro-Kremlin politician was not turned away.

Merkel calls for 'real, true' EU army

Angela Merkel's much-anticipated speech to the European Parliament was brief and to the point. Her message: Europe is alone in the world, the EU should be more united on defence, but not on the economy.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Latest News

  1. Brexit dominates EU affairs This WEEK
  2. How the EU commission got tunnel vision on self-driving cars
  3. No-confidence calls against May put Brexit deal in doubt
  4. Key points of the Brexit deal (if it ever comes into effect)
  5. Romania heaps scorn on 'revolting' EU criticism
  6. US steps in to clean up Cyprus
  7. 'Decisive progress' on Brexit as British cabinet backs deal
  8. Asylum for Macedonia's ex-PM puts Orban on spot

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  3. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  5. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  7. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  9. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  10. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us