Europe is the industry leader in wind energy and represents the cradle of the world wind industry. European industry represents over 80 per cent of world wind turbine manufacturing, and has over 70 per cent of installed capacity worldwide. The European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) is the voice of the European wind industry and European Academy of Wind Energy (EAWE) is the umbrella organisation of key wind energy research hubs.

The industry increased its targets for installed capacity to 75,000 MW in the EU-15 by 2010, and 180,000 MW by 2020. Achieving the target will mean that wind power then will provide electricity equal to the needs of 86 million Europeans, deliver one third of all new electricity generation capacity, meet one third of the EU’s total Kyoto commitment by 2010, and deliver half of the ‘Renewables Directive’ target.

The ‘Renewables Directive’ of the European Commission, dealing with the production of electricity from renewable energy, represents the most important piece of European Union legislation. It includes overall, indicative (non-legally binding) targets for the penetration of electricity from renewable sources – 21 per cent of EU-25 consumption by 2010. Indicative targets have also been set for EU Member States in accordance with the Directive.

There is no harmonised support scheme for renewable energy in Europe at present, nor is there likely to be in the foreseeable future. Each of the 25 Member States therefore is free to implement legislation as it sees fit.