Wind energy is getting big – really big. What started as small-scale wind farms scattered across the world have now become billion-dollar investments, showing the staggering potential of clean energy.
The latest news comes from Norway, which just announced a 1 billion euro (US$1.2 billion) wind project that would be one of the largest in the world. According to Climate Action Program, this means 1,001 megawatts of clean wind energy will be installed across six wind parks. When finished, it will be Europe's largest offshore wind farm.
Vestas, a Danish manufacturer, installer and servicer of wind turbines, will manage the project as part of a 20-year deal.
“This 1 gigawatt project, which is Vestas’ largest order to date ... affirms that wind power provides an attractive long-term energy investment that goes well beyond its climate and sustainability benefits. Investing in wind power simply makes economic sense," Klaus Steen Mortensen, president of Vestas Northern Europe, said in a press statement.
Wind energy is already providing vast amounts of clean energy in Europe. In Denmark, wind provided 50 percent of the country's electricity in 2015. In countries like Norway, with its long, windy coastline, there is huge potential to blow Denmark's figure away. Studies show that offshore wind alone could provide more than 20 times Norway's energy needs, and this project will be the latest and biggest step as the country marches toward a clean-energy economy.
Moreover, the rapid drop in prices and increasing feasibility of energy storage mean that, in the future, wind energy can power homes even when there is no wind. In Germany, some turbines are now being equipped to produce hydrogen fuel to be be used in fuel-cell vehicles during low energy-demand times, another way to close the loop and ensure that clean energy is not dependent on when the sun is shining or the wind is blowing.
Wind is the big play in Europe, according to the Global Wind Energy Council. In 2015, wind accounted for 44 percent of new power installations in the 28 European Union member states. That's 13 GW, including 9.7 GW offshore.
“These numbers show that wind is the driving force behind the EU’s energy transition,” Giles Dickson, CEO of the European Wind Energy Association, said in a press statement. “It makes economic sense and is contributing significantly to Europe’s energy security and competitiveness goals.”
Policy played a strong role in Europe's burgeoning wind energy market. It is the same thing that we're seeing here in California, where incentives have played a huge role in the state becoming the national leader in solar energy. Norway is, despite its wealth in fossil fuels, well ahead of the game, showing that even dirty energy economies can transform into clean-energy havens.
Expect to see more announcements like this in the coming year. Clean energy is where the money is, finally.
Image credit: Andy Dingley via Wikimedia Commons