Europe’s emerging wind energy markets

In Europe, wind energy generation was initiated by a few countries more than 20 years ago. Since the early 2000s, and stimulated by energy and climate policies from the newly formed European Union, it has spread across much of western Europe. Now the EU turns its attention to emerging markets in central and eastern Europe, the new frontier for Europe’s wind energy generation. While wind energy in these emerging markets is important for their own economy’s, it is also important in that it is hoped to offset the predicted future declines in Europe’s more mature markets.[1] At the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) annual event, Robert Clover of MAKE consulting said that by 2050, wind energy will be at the center of Europe’s power needs, producing 50% of Europe’s electricity demands, and “after 2020 wind is the cheapest technology, it is scaleable and it has minimal water requirements.”[2] He also added that in Europe by 2015, onshore wind generation will become equal to the other electricity generating technologies feeding the grid.

On Sept. 27 of 2001, the EU adopted a directive on the promotion of electricity produced from renewable energy sources to meet 22% of the EU’s total electricity consumption from renewable energies in a decade.[1] This directive gave every Member State a specific target. Eight eastern and central European countries joined the EU in 2004 and a few more in 2007.  These newer added countries, which adopted the EU’s energy policies, were more reliant on coal and nuclear and had less developed renewable energy technologies than the 15 western European Member States. This addition caused the EU’s overall renewable energy target to be reduced to 21% of electricity consumption, considering the starting point of these added countries.[1] The adopted EU directive stimulated investments in wind energy and other renewables.

Figure 1.1


From 2005 to 2011 in the EU, there has been a substantial rise in the amount of electricity produced from wind power. In 2005, the EU-15 (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, UK) produced 40,500MW of wind power capacity, more than 200 times the capacity of the EU-12 (Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia), which produced only 208MW of wind power capacity.[1] By 2011, the gap was reduced by ten fold, where the EU-12 installed 4,197MW of wind capacity compared to the 89,997MW installed in the EU-15.[1] It can be clearly seen that the emerging EU countries (EU-12) have a much faster growing renewable energy capacity compared to the early EU members (EU-15). From 2005 to 2011, the total installed wind capacity in the EU-12 increased by 4 GW (around 665MW/year) for an increase of over 1900%, while the total installed EU-15 wind capacity increased from 40GW to almost 90GW during the same period (around 8,330MW/year) for an increase of 122%.[1]

Figure 1.3


The rate of development of wind energy has been diverse and uneven in the 12 newer Member States. From 2005-2011, while some countries in the EU-12 (Malta, Slovenia, and Slovakia) did not install any wind power, others like Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, and Hungary had a monumental increase in the total wind capacity installed. Both Poland and Hungary’s wind power capacity grew by over 1800%, with Poland’s capacity reaching 1,616MW.[1] Of the 12 newer Member States, 88% of the total wind capacity installed (3,690MW of 4,197MW) is located in only five countries, Poland, Romania, Hungary, Czech Republic, and Bulgaria.[1]  By the end of 2012, Poland had 2.5GW, Romania 1.9GW, and Bulgaria 0.7GW of wind power capacity installed.[3] The EU-12 plans to increase wind power capacity from the current 6.4GW to 16GW by 2020, which would be enough electricity to power 9 million households.[3] It is clear that for the future of the European wind energy industry, it’s important that these newly emerged and emerging markets are helped to achieve their full potential.[1]

Works cited:

[1] Eastern winds-Emerging European wind power markets. A report by the European Wind Energy Association – February 2013 <;

[2] <;

[3] <;


1 Comment

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One response to “Europe’s emerging wind energy markets

  1. Thank you for drawing our attention to the emerging wind energy markets in Europe. I was immediately struck by the Robert Clover citation claiming that by 2050 wind energy will meet 50% of Europe’s electricity demands, and I decided to dig into a EWEA report to understand the basis for making this prediction.
    In the first place, that 50% figure is pushing the boundaries of EWEA’s own 2050 best case scenario, which anticipates wind energy providing between 31.6% and 48.7% of electricity production. Furthermore, the EWEA report points to “structural market distortions” as a major stumbling block to the full incorporation of wind energy generation into the EU market. Aside from price controls and subsidies for fossil fuel competitors, the European energy market uses trading rules that put wind energy at a distinct disadvantage.
    The majority of the European electricity markets operate with a day-ahead trading structure that requires energy providers to estimate their production capabilities ahead of delivery. Due to the unpredictable nature of wind energy generation, this exposes the providers to market risks wherein they have to understate their projections to make sure of their ability to cover their commitments. Intraday markets allow some adjustment to the day-ahead projections, but only 15 member states have them, and even those exhibit “very low trade volumes and liquidity”, with only the Spanish power exchange trading above 1% of consumption.
    In order to maximize the market impact of wind energy generation, the European markets will need to extensively modify their current structure to facilitate real time energy trading. Thus, market policy change must take priority over technological and production considerations when promoting wind energy growth.

    Creating the Internal Energy Market in Europe. A report by the European Wind Energy Association – September 2012

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