Wind energy and economic recovery in Europe

The wind industry has coped well during the covid-19 pandemic, and could play a key role in ensuring a green recovery of the EU economy according to a new report from Wind Europe. The European wind industry employs more than 300,000 people today, and by 2030 offshore wind alone could potentially employ 200,000 people.

Wind energy is an important resource for the European economy with an annual turnover of €60bn. According to the report Wind energy and economic recovery in Europe, the industry today generates €2.5bn of value added to the EU economy for each new GW of onshore wind installed and €2.1bn for each new GW of offshore wind. In addition, the wind industry contributes with €5bn in taxes to the EU economy, including €1bn in local taxes and other payments benefiting local communities. In 2019 wind energy represented more than 300,000 jobs in the EU, of which 75 percent are in onshore wind and 25 percent in offshore wind.

The report includes two future scenarios: 

  • The Low Scenario
  • The National Energy and Climate Plans (NECP) scenario

If member states do not deliver on their commitments, there will only be about 82 000 new jobs in the wind industry by 2030 and wind would total 324 GW, which would mean installing 14 GW/ year. In this Low Scenario, job creation in offshore wind would be cut in half. If EU member states deliver on the actions in their NECPs, the number of employees in the wind industry cold increase by 150,000 over the next ten years. By 2030, offshore wind could potentially employ 200,000 people. The NECPs could add up to 397 GW by 2030,   which means that wind power would meet 30% of the EU’s power demand in 2030. However, in order to achieve this, Europe needs to install 21 GW of new wind capacity every year during the next decade. The report underlines that if Europe is to reach climate neutrality by 2050, this would require the impeccably delivery of the NECPs and installing 50 GW/year from 2030 onwards.

To meet the climate goals, Wind Europe suggests several policy recommendations:

  • National Governments should simplify permitting rules and procedures for new and repowered wind projects as well as for on- and offshore grid buildout
  • The EU should increase R&D spending
  • Accelerate the deployment of electricity grids through the EU’s Connecting Europe Facility
  • The EU must adopt sensible trade policies ensuring the European wind industry can draw on global supply chains and compete outside the EU markets

By Anna Lygre Solvang