WindEurope 2023: A Herculean challenge! #FullyCircular

Written by: Sucheta Govil

Did you know that we will need to install far more than 20,000 wind turbines per year worldwide to eventually become a net-zero emissions global society?1 

By the middle of 2023, the global wind industry is expected to achieve the major milestone of one Terawatt (TW) installed global capacity.2 Now bear in mind: It took us 33 years to reach that. Current targets say that the industry shall deliver another TW by 2030 – in less than a decade. A herculean task lies ahead, for which broad collaboration and mutual support will be key. At this year’s WindEurope in Copenhagen, our experts and myself will discuss this with experts from all over the world – sharing Covestro’s commitment to making a difference in climate action.

The WindEurope is the largest fair of its kind in Europe. It offers an insight into the status quo of the wind industry and a glimpse into the future. By 2050, an estimated two-thirds of global energy supply shall be renewable. Of that, wind is expected to contribute 25%.3 Already today, global wind power capacity is helping the world avoid over 1.2 billion tons of CO2 annually4 – that is 1.5 times the emissions of a major economy like Germany!5

Wind Energy is the future. It is needed to make Europe a climate neutral continent and help the world reach net-zero targets and stay below 1.5C global warming. In order to meet those ambitions, we can’t suffocate the industry, but have to help it however we can.

We at Covestro want to do just that. The wind industry and we in the chemical industry are closely linked in several ways already: On the one hand, we are a solutions provider and development partner for turbine manufacturers, wind park operators and key players in the supply chain. On the other hand we want to meet our own energy demand with power purchase agreements for green electricity to become operationally climate neutral by 2035. We already have signed several such agreements with international partners such as Ørsted in Denmark, ENGIE in Belgium, EnBW in Germany and CGN in China.

We as an energy intensive industry aspire to do our part. But we also see turbine manufacturers in Europe fighting for survival. Because besides grand visions by governments, not enough concrete projects are being materialized – while bureaucracy, energy prices and their regulation as well as competitive forces squeeze the sector out of Europe or even out of operation. This is an impossible situation and needs to be addressed urgently. Because without a prospering wind industry on each continent, we can’t meet any climate targets as a global society. It doesn’t make sense to ship materials and parts of such a magnitude across the globe, particularly since we all just witnessed these past years how fragile supply chains can be.

This is a point that’s extremely important to me, and one I’ll be making as part of a panel discussion in Copenhagen. At Covestro we produce our materials for wind blades, towers or cables in each region, for each region. We are ready to materialize the energy transition – in Europe and around the world.    

1 Internal calculation: Global Wind Energy Council estimates capacity addition of 680GW in next 5 years. 130GW offshore. Modern onshore turbines have 6-7MW capacity, offshore turbines have 12-14MW. This results in about 18-20K turbines per year in next 5 years. 
2 GWEC Global Wind Report 2023, Page 14 
3 World Energy Outlook 2022 – Analysis - IEA 
4 Wind power capacity today helping save 1.2 Mio CO2 emissions: https://gwec.net/global-wind-report-2022/ 
5 Greenhouse gas emissions rose by 4.5 percent in 2021 | Umweltbundesamt – Emissions in Germany in 2021 were 762 million tonnes of CO2 equivalents

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