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Wind energy

Wind power has been used for irrigation pumping and milling grain for centuries. In the 20th century small windmills started to be used for electricity production, especially in remote rural areas. The modern wind power industry took off in the late 1970's when companies, mainly in Denmark, started serial production of wind turbines. These early wind turbines were small by today's standards, but there size and power output increased rapidly (see graph).

click to enlarge Source: European Wind Energy Association

Wind energy is one of the fastest growing energy sources. Since 2000, around one third of all installed electricity generating capacity in the EU has been wind power. The share of wind power in total electricity production in Europe was 3.7% in 2007, but with huge differences among the Member States: Germany and Spain together account for more than half of the total installed capacity in Europe. In Denmark, wind energy contributes more than 20% of the total electricity production of the country.

The wind power industry has the ambition to continue the fast growth of recent years. The sector's objective is to provide 20% of final EU electricity consumption by 2020. This can only be achieved if wind turbines can move offshore in order to profit from the more favourable wind conditions on the sea. This however requires considerable research efforts targeting in particular costs reduction of wind turbines, improved reliability and grid integration.

The Commission has contributed to the success story of wind power by supporting research in this domain for many years and by facilitating the cooperation between key stakeholders.

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