Europe needs to invest more in wind R&D to reach climate targets
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Europe needs to invest more in wind R&D to reach climate targets

The European Technology & Innovation Platform for Wind Energy (ETIPWind) has started its new 3-year cycle of activity. ETIPWind supports the alignment, coordination and prioritisation of wind energy-related Research & Innovation (R&I) policies in Europe. Representatives from the industry, researchers, academia and policymakers launched the new 3 year cycle this month at an event in Brussels.

The European Commission wants 510 GW of wind by 2030 up from 190 GW today. Targeted R&I investments for wind energy will be key here. They will foster the technology developments required to achieve the EU’s ambitions. These investments support the European supply chain, facilitate a more circular use of materials and ensure we develop technologies required to ever-higher shares of renewable electricity into the energy system.

Europe is home to a large wind energy industry and is a global leader in wind technology. But we cannot take this for granted. Keeping the industry competitive and innovative will require continuous support for research and innovation. In other mature industries such as aviation and automotives the EU understands this. Without sustained support in R&I and industrial policy these industries would not be the vibrant industries they are today. However, R&I funding for wind has decreased over the past years. By investing in R&I the EU ensures state of the art wind energy technology continues to be developed and manufactured in Europe.

One of the areas where R&I can make a big difference is sustainability. The deployment of wind energy should be sustainable and well-integrated with nature and society. Recycling is an important issue here. 85-90% of the total mass of modern wind turbines already gets recycled today. But the wind industry is aiming for 100% circular turbines. The industry is already making big efforts to this end by introducing recyclable blades.

Another big question is energy system integration. Our grids have a massive expansion ahead to feed in massive amounts of renewable electricity. The offshore grid is a huge engineering challenge which will integrate new technology such as HVDC. But the onshore grid also needs massive expansion which requires innovative solutions. And the grid will be supported by storage options such as large batteries or renewable hydrogen.

WindEurope CEO Giles Dickson said: “Europe needs to invest more in R&I for the wind industry. We currently see the opposite. Public funding is going down. But the sector faces significant technological challenges that can only be solved with more research. The EU wants a massive expansion of wind. They need to back this by actively supporting the development of European technology.”

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