The Use of Wind Energy for Electricity Production
The penetration levels to be reached in different EU countries regarding the use of wind energy for electricity production will require that decision makers and stakeholders in the electricity sector work together to make the necessary changes to the grid infrastructure in Europe. This infrastructure has been constructed and operated in the last century with large centralized coal, hydro, nuclear, and, more recently, gas-fired power plants in mind.
Until the 1980s, electricity generation, distribution, grid reinforcement, grid extensions, and electricity selling were undertaken by national vertical integrated monopolies, which were granted exclusive rights and mandates to finance investments and research in new capacity and technologies through state subsidies and levies on electricity bills. As Europe is moving in the direction of more liberal- ized power markets, those options are no longer available and new technologies are facing a more challenging environment on the path to market penetration and maturity (EWEA report 2005). In recent years, Europe has spent around €19 billion to develop renewable energy technologies.
According with the EWEA report of 2005 “by 2010, in terms of capacity and power generation, wind power can provide:
• Annual electricity generation of 167 TWh, equivalent to 5.5 % of European electricity demand or the power needs of 34 million European households (86 million people);
• 28 % of all new installed generation capacity over the period 2001–2010;
• 10.6 % of overall European installed electricity generation capacity.
In terms of sustainability and savings, successful development of wind power could:
• Deliver 50 % of the EU Renewable Energy Directive target;
• Meet more than 30 % of the EU Kyoto Protocol commitment;
• Save annually 109 million tons of CO2;
• Cumulative CO2 savings of 523 million tons (period 2001–2010).
In terms of fuel and external cost savings, and investment in Europe wind power would mean:
• Cumulative avoided fuel costs of €13.2 billion.
• Annual avoided external costs between €1.8 and €4.6 billion.
• Cumulative avoided external costs between €9.4 and €24 billion over the period 2001–2010.
• An investment value of €49 billion over the period 2001–2010.”