China’s overtaking the European Union (EU) for total installed wind energy capacity in 2015 is a wake-up call for EU policymakers, says the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA).
According to statistics from the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC), China installed almost three times as much wind than the EU did. China and the EU now have 145 GW and 142 GW of total installed capacity, respectively, says EWEA.
Calling it a “watershed moment,” Giles Dickson, CEO of EWEA, says, “It sends a powerful message to policymakers: If Europe really wants to be No. 1 in renewables, it needs to get its act together. We need a clear EU vision for renewables beyond 2020 – and great ambition and clarity from individual member states.”
In October 2014, the European Council set a target for the EU to meet at least 27% of its energy needs from renewable energy by 2030.
Last year, says EWEA, the commission launched a consultation on the revision of the renewable energy directive, which will define how Europe will meet its collectively binding 2030 target. The commission is expected to adopt a proposal at the end of the year.
Dickson adds, “China’s ambition on wind now far exceeds Europe’s. Other emerging economies have also made big, long-term commitments. But today, only six out of 28 EU member states have clear commitments and policies for renewables beyond 2020. This has major industrial policy implications.
“Today, Europe’s wind industry has a 40 percent share of the global wind market and the best technology. But to stay cost-competitive, we need a strong domestic market. Otherwise, it’ll be China and others that capture the rapidly growing global market – and eventually outperform us in Europe.”