Renewables

EU presents European Wind Power Action Plan to prop up industry

EU-European-Wind-Power-Action-Plan-prop-up-industry

Photo: Kadri Simson, Maroš Šefčovič, Wopke Hoekstra (Claudio Centonze / EC - Audiovisual Service)

Published

October 24, 2023

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Published:

October 24, 2023

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As major European wind turbine manufacturers have all been suffering losses and the demand and deployment weakened, the European Commission responded by urging member states and the sector to immediate action. The measures and proposals include increasing access to finance, alleviating the pressure on the industry from international competitors, notably China, and facilitating access to foreign markets.

The European Commission presented its European Wind Power Action Plan to support the sector. It faces insufficient and uncertain demand, slow and complex permitting, lack of access to raw materials, high inflation and commodity prices, unsupportive design of national tenders, increased pressure from international competitors such as China and risks concerning the availability of a skilled workforce, according to the announcement.

The European Union’s executive body outlined a list of immediate actions it said it would take in cooperation with member states and the industry. European Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson, the commission’s Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal, Interinstitutional Relations and Foresight Maroš Šefčovič and European Commissioner for Climate Action Wopke Hoekstra presented the package.

Over the past years, and especially in 2022, all the largest European wind turbine manufacturers reported significant operating losses, the pace of construction slowed and demand became more difficult to forecast, they explained.

Renewable energy auction design lacks penalties for non-execution

“There can be no successful green transition without a strong industrial base. We need to make sure all sectors are able to operate in a conducive environment to effectively contribute to reaching our ambitious climate and energy goals. This package will help the European wind sector to grow at home and compete globally, thus reducing dependencies on external suppliers and creating green jobs,” Šefčovič stated.

EU requires a strong industrial base for a successful energy transition

The measures and proposals cover permitting, auction design, access to finance, international level playing field, skills and industry engagement. They are envisaged to address inflation, issues in access to raw materials, commodity price volatility and rising interest rates.

“European manufacturers are already global leaders, but we need to offer them further support in challenging economic times. Our European Wind Power Action Plan does that. It will speed up planning and permitting so projects are delivered faster. It will help the industry to access finance, train skilled workers and it will ensure a fair international environment for our companies,” the European Commission said.

The design of national tenders for the support of renewable energy is based almost exclusively on prices but does not appropriately reward the high environmental and social standards of European products, the commissioners added. They pointed to uncapped negative bidding and insufficient penalties for non-execution.

EU vows to safeguard domestic wind industry, help international expansion

As for deployment and permitting, the relevant authorities are set to accelerate the implementation of revised renewable energy rules. The commission is calling on the adoption of targets, mid-term auction schedules and long-term national plans.

On the financial front, it said it would enhance backing through the Innovation Fund and other facilities. The European Investment Bank has been tasked with providing de-risking tools and guarantees.

A fair and competitive international environment, according to the action plan, involves “trade defence instruments” but also efforts to open access to foreign markets for EU manufacturers.

Net zero academies are envisaged to strengthen the labor pool

The wind power sector needs a bigger and more skilled workforce as it expands, as does the solar industry, on the path to meet European energy and climate targets.

The commission pointed out that the Net-Zero Industry Act would open the door for the launch of net zero industry skills academies. It added that large-scale skills partnerships are in the pipeline for such efforts, too.

The European Commission said it would support the build-out of electricity grids with an action plan by the end of 2023. Earlier this year, it presented the Green Deal Industrial Plan and the Critical Raw Materials Act to support the domestic manufacturing capacity of net zero technologies. Much of the efforts are aimed at responding to the subsidies and incentives that the United States rolled out.

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