The wind energy industry increased its contribution to the European Union's (EU) gross domestic product (GDP) by 33% between 2007 and 2010, according to statistics from a new report released by the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA). In fact, in 2010, the industry's growth was twice that of the EU's GDP overall, with the sector contributing 32 billion euros to an EU economy in slowdown.
In addition, the wind energy sector created 30% more jobs from 2007 to 2010, reaching nearly 240,000, while EU unemployment rose by 9.6%. By 2020, there are expected to be 520,000 jobs in the European wind power sector, EWEA predicts.
Furthermore, the wind industry was a net exporter of 5.7 billion euros' worth of goods and services in 2010, and it invested 5% of its spending in research and development (R&D) – three times more than the EU average. Wind turbine manufacturers commit around 10% of their total turnover to R&D.
‘Wind energy is a recession-busting industry," says Arthouros Zervos, president of EWEA. "It is countering the recession – providing increasing economic activity, more jobs and exports every year to an EU struggling with an economic crisis intensified by ever-increasing amounts of fuel being imported at rising costs to European citizens."
By 2020, the European wind industry's contribution to the GDP will have increased almost three-fold, EWEA predicts.
Notably, if the industry were a member state, it would rank 19th in 2020 in terms of its contribution to EU GDP, above Slovakia and just below Hungary. In addition, the number of jobs created by the wind industry will increase by over 200% to reach 520,000 by 2020, according to the report. By 2030, that number could increase to 795,000.
However, in order to ensure wind energy brings these increased economic benefits, EWEA says the following will be necessary:
Stable national renewable energy frameworks, and ambitious implementation of 2020 requirements at a national level;
- A post-2020 energy policy with a binding renewables target for 2030;
- A linked European power grid and single energy market;
- A more ambitious 30% greenhouse-gas reduction target for 2020; and
- Sufficient and dedicated EU funding for wind energy research.