BRUSSELS - European wind energy is picking up as recently released statistics by the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) show an upward spike in the number of wind farms created, amount invested, and energy generated.
The European Commission describes it as one of the fasting-growing energy sources, while the sector itself aims to get wind power to account for 20 percent of final EU electricity consumption by 2020. In 2011, wind accounted for 6.3 percent up from 5.3 percent the year before.
Germany and Spain are Europe's leading producers of wind power followed by France, Italy and the UK.
More renewable power capacity was installed last year in the EU than ever before. And wind power accounted for just over 21 percent of the installations.
In Denmark, wind power accounted for 24 percent of domestic electricity production in 2011 - the highest figure in Europe.
Twelve years ago, renewable power installations totaled 3.5 gigawatts (GW). By 2011, the sector grew ten-fold and generated 32 GW.
Investment is also increasing. Last year, around €12.6 billion was invested in EU wind farms. In 2010, the figure was under €10 billion.
Meanwhile, EU energy commissioner Gunther Oettinger wrote on Tuesday (7 February) that Europe’s oil bill increased by €100 billion for 2010-11.
"It is high time that we put a plug in this hole and redirect our money from importing energy from outside the EU to making energy investments in Europe," he wrote in an op-ed co-authored by Denmark's minister of energy for EUobserver.
The EWEA report also warns the EU is now installing more coal power plants than it is has decommissioned - only the third year this has happened in the EU since 1998. For the EU to decrease greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2020, more green energy needs to be generated, says the organisation.
The EU commission wants the industry to invest in offshore wind turbines and is supporting research into new technologies to harness the energy more efficiently.
It believes offshore is key to getting wind turbines to hit the 20 percent energy consumption mark in the next eight years. The money is being invested to reach that goal. Just under €2.5 billion was set aside for the offshore wind power sector last year.
Almost 60 percent of the UK's latest wind turbines were placed off its coast last year.