Belgium (Brussels Morning Newspaper) It cannot be emphasized enough how important the European wind industry is to the EU. Our ambition is to reduce emissions by 55 percent by 2030, so we need huge numbers of renewables in order to reach our climate goals. For perspective: we have agreed to boost the share of renewables in the bloc’s overall energy mix to 42.5 percent by 2030, against 17 percent today.
It is an ambitious scaling, and the wind industry plays a big role in the ambition. I lead the negotiations of the EU Offshore Renewables Energy Strategy, published in early 2022. The strategy addressed numerous obstacles to the deployment of offshore renewables and laid out a road for European export success. Yet, less than two years later, inflation, supply chain issues, high interest, slow permitting procedures, and unfair competition from state-subsidized Chinese manufacturers threaten Europe’s position as global market leader in wind technology. These days, the media are reporting on large wind projects failing every week.
The situation is alarming. We need a strong wind industry to reach our climate targets, and if we do not take warnings seriously now, the industry is at risk of losing pace with China picking up the market shares. We cannot let that happen again.
The solar industry should have been a European powerhouse, but we lost it to China, which eventually produced solar panels quicker, better, and cheaper, not least supported by massive state subsidies. European production was undermined. It is a history we do not want to be repeated. As Stephen King once said:
“Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me”.
As the European Parliament’s spokesperson on offshore renewables, I have discussed the matter at length with industry stakeholders as well as Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson.
The goal is simple: we must make sure our European manufacturers have access to the supplies needed. We must make sure there is transparency and predictability for the green investors. We must reduce red tape issues, and protect the industry against unfair competition. We are not out of the race yet but we need to work efficiently and hard to maintain Europe’s leading position in the game.
Thankfully, our concerns are being heard. The European Commission is ready to act.
Ursula von der Leyen announced in her State of the European Union speech that the Commission will put a ‘European Wind Power Package’ forward:
“We will fast-track permitting even more, we will improve the auction systems across the EU, we will focus on skills, access to finance, and stable supply chains,” she said.
I could not agree more. The wind industry has a huge potential to create a safer, richer, and greener EU, and while we are proponents of free market mechanisms, we have to acknowledge that in today’s much-changed world, protectionism is also a means of security.
The Commission’s Wind Power Package appears to have the right scope and is above all a testimony to the Commission’s intention to protect our important industries. There is still a lot of work to be done, and it certainly needs to be done right too. In the European Parliament, we will have a keen eye on the Wind Power Package in the months to come.