Wind is a clean, free and abundant energy source used to generate electricity. Wind turbines work on a simple principle: the wind makes their blades spin, creating kinetic energy. A generator then converts this kinetic energy into electrical energy.
A wind farm is a group of wind turbines that can cover several square kilometres of land or sea to harness either onshore or offshore wind.
Continued improvements in manufacturing and turbine design combined with improved capacity factors (more MWh of electricity generated per MW of wind turbines installed; for example, thanks to more performant turbines and/or better localisation) have driven down the costs of wind power and reaffirmed its position as a key driver of the clean energy transition.
According to Eurostat, wind accounted for over one-third (36%) of the total electricity generated from renewable sources in the EU in 2020.
The wind sector is also a significant contributor to the EU economy, boosting growth and creating long-term sustainable jobs. According to Wind Europe, it provided between 240,000 and 300,000 jobs in the EU in 2020, of which about 62,000 were in the offshore wind industry.
In some EU countries, the length and complexity of permitting processes can be an obstacle to renewable energy projects in general, and to wind power in particular. To address this issue, the Renewable Energy Directive (2018/2001/EU) includes provisions on the organisation and maximum duration of the permit-granting process, which helps set in motion renewable energy projects while taking into account legitimate concerns of citizens and respecting environmental standards.
Additional measures were presented by the Commission in a recommendation on speeding up permit-granting procedures for renewable energy projects and a proposal for a targeted amendment of the Renewable Energy Directive, both published alongside the REPowerEU Plan in May 2022.
Wind farms and renewable energy communities
The Renewable Energy Directive focuses on grassroots initiatives, while also making it easier for people to consume and produce renewable energy. By introducing rules for renewable energy communities, it enables people to take part in renewable energy projects like wind farms. Empowering citizens in the clean energy transition may also help increase local acceptance of renewable energy projects.
- Guidance document on wind energy developments and EU nature legislation (2020)
- Renewable Energy Directive (2018/2001/EU)
- European Green Deal
- Wind energy (DG Research and Innovation)
- European technology and innovation platform on wind energy (ETIP Wind)
- EurObserv'ER wind energy barometer 2022
- International Renewable Energy Agency