Fast authorizations and more financing: This is how Europe wants to restart wind energy

Faster authorizations, more flexible purchasing and subsidized financing. But also the fight against unfair competition from third countries and the training of 100 thousand expert technicians in three years. These are measures initiated by the European Commission to combat the wind crisis and respond to the demands of EU companies.

For some time now, the sector (“a European success story,” in the words of Commission President Ursula von der Leyen) has lost momentum. Last year, investments in new wind farms on the continent stood at 17 billion euros, the lowest level since 2009. And even in 2023, despite a slight recovery, the pace remains slow, especially compared to the targets Brussels has set to accelerate. energy transition. “The EU needs to build 31 Gw of new wind turbines every year to reach its 2030 targets,” reminds Giles Dickson, CEO of WindEurope.

Inflation and supply chain problems are also at the root of the slowdown; This increased companies’ costs, especially turbine installation, and made energy sales less affordable. Some previously planned projects, such as the Swedish Vattenfall project in the UK, were abandoned precisely because of price increases: wholesale prices were set at the tender stage before the energy crisis and are now very low compared to the price increases in 2017. production cost. This brought to the fore the issue of purchasing mechanisms, which were seen as too rigid by companies in the sector. Brussels reminds us that other critical issues relate to “the increasing pressure exerted by international competitors and the risks associated with the availability of a qualified workforce.”

To respond to this “unprecedented combination of challenges”, the European Commission has developed a six-point package. The first two address bureaucratic issues: Authorization procedures will be accelerated (which is already foreseen in the latest revision of the renewable energy directive) and auctions will be improved with “well-designed and objective criteria that reward equipment with the highest added value”. “We value and guarantee the complete and timely implementation of projects.”

There will then be a push to make it easier for companies to access EU finance, particularly through the Innovation Fund, while the European Investment Bank will also offer guarantees to reduce risks. “The Commission also encourages Member States to take full advantage of the flexibility offered by the amended Transitional Framework for Transitional Crisis and State aid to support wind energy production in the EU,” Brussels writes.

Another critical area is external competition: “To ensure that the wind sector can operate on a level playing field, the Commission will carefully monitor unfair trade practices that benefit foreign wind energy producers and will continue to use trade agreements to facilitate access to foreign markets,” explains Brussels.

The Commission’s package also aims to tackle the skilled labor shortage: The Commission, also as part of a more general plan launched to deal with job vacancies in industry, will “facilitate the start of European skills academies at net zero (..) Including a dedicated sector for wind power emission industry sector”. The academies will “develop content and training materials with the aim of providing training to 100 thousand people in the first three years.” Finally, Brussels stated that the Commission will work with Member States and the wind sector to develop “the EU Wind Energy Charter to improve the conditions that will enable the European wind sector to remain competitive”.

Alongside the package, the Commission also presented a communication specifically promoting offshore wind. Brussels and member states agreed to install 111 Gw of offshore capacity by 2030: by 2022, this capacity was 16.3 Gw. “The Commission is therefore redoubling its efforts to support the offshore renewable energy sector in particular and defines further actions to: strengthen grid infrastructure and regional cooperation, accelerate permitting, ensure integrated planning of the marine area, strengthen the resilience of the marine area, support infrastructure, research and innovation support and improve supply chains and skills,” writes Brussels.

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Source: Today IT