In December 2008, the EU adopted an ambitious and far-reaching ‘climate change and energy’ package which, amongst others, commits the EU-27 countries to increasing the share of renewable energy to 20% of Europe’s total energy production by 2020. As a clean, renewable source of electricity, wind energy is destined to make a significant contribution to achieving this 20% target.
Wind energy in Europe has been growing rapidly over the last decade. In 2008, it accounted for around 4.8% of the EU’s total electricity consumption. This share is expected to at least triple by 2020. It is clear therefore that the number of wind farm installations across the EU is likely to increase radically in the short to medium term. It will be important to ensure that such a rapid expansion is sustainable in all respects and is done in accordance with EU environmental legislation, including the Habitats and Birds Directives.
Evidence to date shows that, whereas, in general, wind energy does not represent a serious threat to wildlife, poorly sited or designed wind farms can pose a potential threat to vulnerable species and habitats, including those protected under the Habitats and Birds Directives.