EWEA is sticking to the target it set in 2003 of 180,000MW by 2020 and 300,000MW by 2030, 40% of which is expected to be offshore wind. It should be borne in mind that the European Parliament has, for many years, been calling for a mandatory 25% target for renewable energy by 2020, though the current firm commitment is 20% (equivalent to 30% of the community’s entire electricity requirements).
However, EWEA is clearly nervous, saying “much depends on the timing and scale of the offshore segment of the business”.
Wise words – unfortunately, that worry could translate into brutal reality as the global commodities race intensifies, with China set to out-buy both the EU and the US on all key commodities.
Then what? Do we carry on regardless? Will all turbine manufacturing be transplanted to China and India to win temporary respite on costs? Do we also get them – and the Koreans, too – to knock out gearboxes, towers and foundation systems by the hundreds and thousands and ship them back on redundant car carriers?
We may as well, as that’s what Europe has been doing for at least 20 years – conveniently exporting carbon emissions to China and other nations with a low-cost, high-emissions manufacturing base.
Of course, the consequence of such actions as we try to save our energy skin is that EU imports will rise dramatically. How would we pay for it all? Well, I suppose there is always the City of London and other European financial centres; or at least that was the case until the current banking debacle.
I don’t think it is an exaggeration to say that the challenge facing Europe amounts to saving its energy skin. A few more numbers to doodle around with are:
The European Commission expects oil production to slump 73% between 2000 and 2030.
Natural gas production will plummet by 59%
Coal output will crash 41%.
By 2030, the EU will be importing 94% of its oil, 84% of its gas and 59% of its coal.
That assumes that sufficient supplies can be scraped up from elsewhere in the face of competition from China and India. Oh, and one should not forget the US, which currently ranks as the greediest nation on the planet when it comes to energy.