Europe’s Falling Power Demand Cuts Wind-Turbine Forecast by 2020

Jul 23, 2014 6:37 am ET

July 23 (Bloomberg) -- Falling power demand and an economic slump in Europe prompted the region’s wind-turbine industry group to cut its forecast for installations through 2020.

The 28-nation European Union will probably build a total of 192 gigawatts of wind-energy capacity by the end of this decade, the European Wind Energy Association said in a report released today in Brussels. That’s a sixth lower than the 230 gigawatts the group forecast in 2009 and reiterated two years later.

“A cocktail of regulatory uncertainty, ongoing climate and energy discussions at EU level and rapidly evolving national frameworks has contributed to these new scenarios,” EWEA Deputy Chief Executive Officer Justin Wilkes said in the statement.

Spain has eliminated renewable energy subsidies, Germany has pared them back and in the U.K., developers have canceled more than 5,500 megawatts of offshore wind projects in the past year. Policymakers across the region are shifting their priorities toward reining in electricity costs and away from protecting the climate.

The new forecast still anticipates European nations building another 75 gigawatts of wind farms in the seven years through 2020, involving investments totaling as much as 124 billion euros ($167 billion). The industry will employ 354,000 people by then, up from 253,000 today, EWEA said.

Germany Leads

The lobby group predicted onshore wind installations will total 169 gigawatts in 2020, with 23.5 gigawatts of offshore wind. It sees German installations increasing to 51.5 gigawatts in 2020 from 34.3 gigawatts last year, the U.K.’s total doubling to 21 gigawatts, France’s installations more than doubling to 20 gigawatts, and Poland’s almost tripling to 10 gigawatts. Installations in Spain are predicted to rise to 26 gigawatts from 23 gigawatts, with those in Italy rising to 12 gigawatts from 8.5 gigawatts.

EWEA said wind power will probably provide 442 terawatt hours of power consumption in 2020, about 15 percent of the bloc’s total. Its previous forecast saw wind providing 581 terawatt hours of electricity, or 16 percent of consumption. It cited a downgrading of the European Commission’s 2020 power demand forecast by 11 percent to 2,956 terawatt hours.