Europe holds potential to meet global demand for electricity until 2050 through onshore wind power

A new study published in Energy Policy Volume 132 concludes that Europe could power the rest of the world solely through wind power through 2050. Taking social economic constraints into considerations, the study reveals that if all available land where to be converted to onshore wind parks the resulting nameplate capacity would be equivalent to 52.5TW, corresponding to roughly 1MW per 16 European citizen, three times larger than previous studies have shown. Given the best projections of power consumption this would be enough electricity to satisfy global electricity demand for until 2050.

“Our study suggests that the horizon is bright for the onshore wind sector and that European aspirations for a 100% renewable energy grid are within our collective grasp technologically.”

Co-author Benjamin Sovacool, Professor of Energy Policy at the University of Sussex

The study estimates that this would require an additional 11 million wind turbines covering an areas in excess of 5 million square kilometers, which effectively would increase output by a factor of 100.

It is however important to note that this is study is only an assessment of the geographical viability, and as such does not assess the likelihood of this happening. Nevertheless the study remains important for various reasons as it underscores the possibility that a complete shift to renewable energy is an actual possibility. Furthermore, it can act as an important tool for future energy policy and planning.

“The study is not a blueprint for development but a guide for policymakers indicating the potential of how much more can be done and where the prime opportunities exist”

Co-author Benjamin Sovacool, Professor of Energy Policy at the University of Sussex

The study was created using Geographical Information System (GIS), with inputs based on data aggregated from satellite and public databases.