Study highlights 46% of land in Europe would be suitable for siting of projects.
Analysis from the University of Sussex and Aarhus University has revealed Europe has the capacity to produce more than 100 times the amount of energy it currently produces through onshore wind farms.
The study found that the suitable sites for onshore wind farms in Europe has the potential to supply enough energy for the whole world until 2050.
Researchers also highlighted that if all of Europe’s capacity for onshore wind farms was realised, the installed nameplate capacity would 52.5TW – equivalent to 1MW for every 16 European citizens.
Spatial analysis of Geographical Information System (GIS)-based wind atlases allowed the research team to identify around 46% of Europe’s territory which would be suitable for siting of onshore wind farms.
The study estimates more than 11m additional wind turbines could be theoretically installed over almost five million square kilometres of suitable terrain generating 497 exajoules (EJ) of power, which would adequately meet the expected global energy demand in 2050 of 430 EJ.
The authors identified Turkey, Russia, and Norway as having the greatest potential for future wind power density although large parts of Western Europe were also considered ripe for further onshore farms because of favourable wind speeds and flat areas.
University of Sussex energy policy professor and report co-author Benjamin Sovacool said: “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.
“Obviously, we are not saying that we should install turbines in all the identified sites but the study does show the huge wind power potential right across Europe which needs to be harnessed if we’re to avert a climate catastrophe.”
Assistant professor in the Center for Energy Technologies at Aarhus University Peter Enevoldsen said: “Critics will no doubt argue that the naturally intermittent supply of wind makes onshore wind energy unsuitable to meet the global demand.
“But even without accounting for developments in wind turbine technology in the upcoming decades, onshore wind power is the cheapest mature source of renewable energy, and utilizing the different wind regions in Europe is the key to meet the demand for a 100% renewable and fully decarbonized energy