Wind energy on the rise globally

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  • Today’s Global Wind Day puts offshore and onshore wind in the spotlight – key  to create a green energy system
  • RWE invests massively in the expansion of wind energy as part of its Growing Green strategy to support the energy transition
  • As one of the world’s leading renewables energy companies, RWE forges ahead the expansion of wind energy with a strong focus on sustainability and innovations

Essen/Geertruidenberg, 15 June 2023

Wind energy has seen significant growth in recent years, with global installed capacity passing impressive milestones and being one of the most competitive sources of energy. According to the International Energy Agency, in 2021, of the total 830 gigawatts (GW) of wind capacity installed, 93% were onshore and 7% offshore wind farms. Wind energy must be significantly expanded in order to reach the ‘Net Zero Scenario’ with an annual wind generation goal of 8,000 terawatt hours (TWh) by 2030. For comparison, electricity demand in Europe and North America in 2021 totalled around 8,500 TWh.

Markus Krebber, CEO of RWE AG: “Today’s Global Wind Day celebrates one of our core technologies. Wind energy on land and at sea is one of the cornerstones to making the global energy transition a success and achieving the climate targets. To increase green energies we are investing billions of euros each year in wind power and we are committed to expanding our portfolio in an environmentally friendly way. With this in mind, we have set ourselves ambitious sustainability targets. For example, from 2030 at the latest we will only implement future wind projects that have a net positive impact on biodiversity.”

Sustainability as an integrated part of RWE’s wind business

RWE is one of the world’s major players in renewables and leads the way in advancing sustainability in wind power. RWE is working towards full circularity and net-zero emissions, supporting local communities and the protection of biodiversity. The company has set a net-positive impact target by 2030 for biodiversity for all new assets. To achieve this, RWE is working with scientists and NGOs to create and advance the necessary knowledge to achieve net positive impacts. RWE has also set itself the target of achieving at least 90 per cent of recovery of materials by 2030. Furthermore, the company has set itself ambitious climate targets, in line with the 1.5-degree CO2 reduction path.

A demonstration of innovation and using circular materials is evident at RWE’s Kaskasi, Sofia and Thor offshore wind farms that will be using recyclable blades. In addition, GreenTowers will be used at Thor wind farm, an example of closing material loops by using scrap-metal in the components production next to green power.

Key sustainability projects that have been deployed at some of RWE’s onshore wind farms include Black Blades in the Netherlands to increase bird protection, the use of blade lift technology to avoid cutting trees in Selinus wind farms in Italy or the Orkoien project in Spain, which tests technologies to reduce the impact on the environment during construction.

Onshore Wind at RWE – 17 projects under construction in eight countries

RWE operates more than 200 onshore wind farms worldwide. In Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Italy, Poland, Spain, Sweden, and the US 17 projects with a total capacity of over 600 megawatts (MW) are under construction. These include the 200-MW project Montgomery Range in Texas.

Supply chain is in fast growing markets of utmost importance. RWE recently signed a framework agreement with Siemens Gamesa, securing fixed delivery dates and a structured price settlement for European onshore wind farms. Such agreements between companies are one way to increase planning security for both developers and manufacturers and to support the necessary supply chain build out of manufacturing capacities in view of expansion targets in Europe and the US.

RWE – an experienced offshore player and floating pioneer

RWE, the number two in offshore wind globally (excluding China), operates 19 offshore wind farms with a pro-rata installed capacity of about 3.3 GW in five countries and intends to more than double its offshore capacity to 8 GW by 2030. Two offshore wind farms, Thor in Denmark and Sofia in the UK, with a total capacity of 2.4 GW are under construction. Offshore wind is gaining momentum in the US where RWE is taking a leading role. In 2022, RWE secured seabed leases in offshore wind auctions off both the east and the west coast, with a total capacity of 3.9 GW (RWE share).

RWE’s experience in deploying seabed-fixed offshore wind combined with its in-house engineering expertise and global approach means that the company is particularly well placed to become a market leader in floating wind and unlock the large-scale potential of deep waters around the world. To gain early experience and a broad technical knowledge, RWE is participating in several high-profile floating demonstration projects, each based on a different foundation concept. The demonstration projects are already providing unique insights into the particular challenges and opportunities of this relatively new technology.

RWE wind activities in the Netherlands

The Netherlands has put offshore wind energy at the heart of its strategy to achieve its sustainable energy goals. By 2023, the Netherlands will reach about 4.7GW of total installed capacity and offshore wind turbines will supply 3.3% of all energy in the Netherlands. Around 2030, there should be about 21 GW of offshore wind farms. These will then supply 16% of all energy in the Netherlands and 75% of current electricity consumption. These developments put the Netherlands in a leading position in offshore wind.

Winning the tender for the construction of the Hollandse Kust West VII wind farm marks RWE’s entry into the Dutch offshore wind market, one of our key strategic growth markets in Europe. At the same time, it confirms that our years of knowledge and expertise are unique. This wind farm of more than 760 GW off the Dutch North Sea coast is currently in the development phase. Our perfect match of energy supply and demand through full system integration and innovation serves as a blueprint for a new generation of offshore wind farms.

Furthermore, the Netherlands aims to generate at least 35 terawatt hours (TWh) of renewable energy by 2030 from onshore wind and large solar projects. As of the end of 2022, there is a total of 6,045MW of onshore wind capacity. Of this, 759MW was realised in 2022. With the projects now under construction, total wind power capacity could reach 6,880MW by the end of 2023. RWE currently operates 11 onshore wind farms in the Netherlands with a total capacity of 402,5MW and 1 wind farm of 20MW is under construction.

Despite the many challenges we are facing within onshore wind such as obstruction lighting, distance between homes and the wind turbines and noise standards, RWE is determined to actually bring the RES ambitions to completion, within the envisaged timelines. In all our projects we closely collaborate with governments, science and nature organisations, as well as local stakeholders.

We believe it is important not only to focus on increasing our renewable energy capacity, but also to work on doing business responsibly with our social stakeholders and direct and indirect supply chain partners beyond current legislation. This is why we have recently signed the agreement (IRBC) with the ambition to become fully compliant with OECD Guidelines & the UN Guiding Principles. By working together, sharing knowledge and continuously researching and innovating, we continue working in an efficient, smart and climate-friendly way.

Pictures of offshore and onshore wind farms for media use are available at the RWE Media data base (credit: RWE). 

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