Brussels finalises ‘wind power package’ to help EU industry

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The European Commission plans to announce its finalised Wind Power Package on Tuesday (24 October), with the objective of supporting the EU’s wind industry by overcoming industry-related challenges. It is widely recognised that wind power is crucial to phasing out fossil fuels, yet its potential is not being realised due to challenges including permitting delays, supply chain issues and financing. According to a leaked draft of the Wind Power Package seen by Euractiv, five difficulties for European wind equipment manufacturers are identified “The under-utilisation of production capacities, driven by inadequate and uncertain demand for wind turbines in the EU” (estimated 80GW of capacity stuck in permitting procedures) “High inflation and commodity prices, combined with limited hedging by wind equipment manufacturers against input price volatility” Design of national support focusing on price criteria rather than environmental and social standards in European products and supply chain resilience Pressure from international competitors, including China, an important supplier of raw materials and components to the EU Availability of skilled workers in the wind manufacturing sector The action plan will design auctions for new wind power generation capacity that will account for factors other than cheapest bid, where Chinese manufacturers currently have a price advantage over European companies. The Commission will also launch dialogues between EU countries, industry and wider stakeholders with a view to improving the auction systems. An increased focus on European competitiveness is also seen, as the Commission will “closely monitor possible unfair trading practices which benefit foreign wind manufacturers.” Increasing permitting and grid capacity is a central part of the plan. For example, the European Commission will launch ‘Accele-RES’ an initiative which has as its objective to accelerate the implementation of new renewable energy law. There will also be an online tool to help Member States with the permitting process by the end of 2023. Finally, the Wind Power Package will look to boost offshore wind, which is projected to play an integral part in Europe’s future energy mix. Europe aims to install 12 GW per year on average, 10 times more than the 2022 installations’ capacity. It will do this by developing cross-border offshore grids, supporting innovation, fast-tracking permitting, improving maritime spatial planning, strengthening the resilience of infrastructure and securing supply chains. More information will be provided when the package is confirmed on Tuesday.