EU Wind Power Blowing Past CO2 Targets

As party to the Kyoto Protocol, the European Union committed to reducing its carbon dioxide emissions by 8 percent from 1990 levels by 2012, and the EU has since then voluntarily set a longer-term greenhouse-gas reduction target of 20 percent for 2020. A recently released report from the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) reveals that, due to the large contribution of wind power, it is possible for the EU to increase its emissions reduction target from 20 percent to 30 percent of 1990 levels.

The report, “Wind Energy and EU Climate Policy” [PDF], finds that domestic wind power (produced within the borders of the 27 member states of the EU) will produce 581 terawatt-hours (TWh) and avoid 342 million tons of CO2 by 2020. The EU is allowed to meet up to 60 percent of its target by purchasing carbon offsets from developing countries. This means that it only needs to produce about 40 percent of its target CO2 reductions domestically. The report finds that, after adding in production estimates for other renewable electricity sources, the EU is on track to produce 119 percent of its domestic reduction target from renewable electricity generation by 2020.

EIA energy report

image via Shutterstock

The report follows a previous EWEA report recommending that the EU implement a mandate to generate 45 percent of its domestic electricity from renewable resources by 2030. Its release comes just as the European Parliament is discussing the European Commission’s 2050 low carbon roadmap.

Raising the EU’s CO2 reduction target to 30 percent of 1990 levels would put it on track to produce 79 percent of its domestic reduction target through renewable electricity generation – leaving plenty of room for economic growth in other sectors, like energy efficiency and conservation. Further, the EWEA argues that increasing the target would help the EU avoid a further fall in carbon prices, an unfortunate side-effect of the the economic crisis.

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Lauren Craig is a writer and consultant living in Seattle, WA. She holds an M.S. in International Development from Tulane University, and is co-founder of Sustainable Systems Integrators, LLC., an employee-owned solar energy design and installation firm in New Orleans, LA. She is also certified in PV design and installation by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP).

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