EU Drafts Action Plan to Make Europe’s Wind Energy Sector Competitive

The European Commission has outlined a six-point action plan to make Europe’s wind energy industry competitive by ensuring more financial support and prioritizing the acceleration of permitting.

Acknowledging that the European wind industry has recently faced difficulties with all large wind turbine manufacturers reporting significant operating losses in 2022, the Commission told the European Parliament that Europe was nowhere near the 37 GW per year needed as a cost-effective contribution to achieving the EU 2030 target for renewables.

Meeting this target will require the installed capacity to grow from 204 GW in 2022 to more than 500 GW in 2030.

The proposed action plan requires concerted action across the following six main pillars:

The action plan attempts to alleviate the major problems the European wind industry currently faces in terms of insufficient and uncertain demand for wind turbines, slow and complex approval procedures for renewable energy projects, high inflation, and commodity prices.

The Commission proposes facilitating access to EU financing with the European Investment Bank (EIB), providing de-risking tools and guarantees for EU wind companies. It will also facilitate EU manufacturers’ access to foreign markets, protect the domestic market from trade distortions, and enhance standardization in the wind energy sector.

The EIB is working with the Commission on a dedicated instrument to counter-guarantee commercial banks’ credit exposures to key wind industry suppliers, increasing access to advance payment and performance guarantee lines. The facility is expected to launch in 3 to 6 months.

The Commission said it would closely monitor possible unfair trade practices which benefit foreign wind manufacturers. This will involve close scrutiny of potential subsidization of wind-related products imported into the EU. If justified, the Commission will activate its trade defense instruments.

To the extent that foreign distorting subsidies allow wind manufacturers receiving them to be successful in public procurement procedures or in concentrations involving EU target companies, the EU will also use the measures provided for by the Foreign Subsidies Regulation. The Commission will assess evidence of alleged unfair practices put forward by the industry or from other independent sources.

To achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 globally, the annual wind capacity additions should reach a minimum of 329 GW annually, four times the current deployment levels. The action plan will also indirectly support other clean power sectors, including the solar industry, given that several of the proposed actions are of relevance to all renewable sources. This is a necessary move after the EU Parliament voted to boost the domestic renewable energy share to 42.5% by 2030 earlier his month.

Europe’s power industry recently called for ramping up investments in aging grid infrastructure by 84% annually until 2050. The grid infrastructure is ill-suited for accommodating decentralized renewables, electric vehicles, and smart grids, Eurelectric, which represents the interests of the European electricity industry, said.

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