A recent study by the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) indicates that the EU will triple its wind energy output by 2020. In 2010 the EU wind industry generated approximately 182 terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity or 5.3% of the energy demand, in 2010 it is expected to increase to 581 TWh and 15.7%. Currently there are roughly 70,000 turbines in operation throughout the EU, it is expected that an additional 60,000 will be operational by 2020, with more advanced turbine technology allowing greater efficiencies and power output. Annual investment in the industry is expected to rise from € 12.7 billion to € 18 billion by 2020.

In other words, while Europe is already ahead of us in the wind energy industry, that gap could grow even wider if they continue to grow as projected. In the U.S. in 2010 wind energy generated approximately 94.6 TWh of electricity, or roughly half of what was generated in the EU. And while the EU’s wind energy makes up 5.3% of the total electricity used, in the United States wind only accounts for 2.3% based on U.S. EIA data.

However, the news isn’t all bad. From 2009 – 2010 wind energy production in the U.S. grew by 28%. So IF we are able to maintain that level of growth we will have surpassed Europe in 2020. Assuming we continue at 28% growth annually the U.S. will have over 1,100 TWh generated in 2020. However, if we are unable to growth the industry at 28% annually, but it grows strictly by net added generation from 2009 -2010 (20.7 TWh), we will be at 301 TWh in 2020. At 301 TWh in 2020 we would still be at roughly half of Europe’s output.

While it may not seems like a big deal, just remember, growing the wind industry, especially if it is offshore wind, is going to mean creating highly skilled manufacturing, operations, and maintenance jobs. Lately you have been hearing doom and gloom stories from Washington over the debt ceiling and what will happened to the economy, one sure fire way to help the economy is to create jobs.

The full EWEA report can be found here: