Price, energy, recycling … the 6 essential questions about wind turbines

“We currently hear everything and its opposite about wind power, warns Jean-Louis Bal, the president of the Renewable Energies Union (SER). It is important to have certain figures in mind for the debate to be fair. “

Since the end of the 1990s, wind power has in fact gradually established itself in the French energy mix. To the point that in 2020, according to the Electricity Transmission Network (RTE), it represented 7.9% of national electricity production. However, far behind nuclear (67.1%) and hydraulics (13%).

How many wind turbines are there in France?

France has the second largest wind energy potential in Europe, after that of Great Britain. Some 18,000 megawatts (MW) of power have already been installed, or 8,700 “masts”. But the 2020 Multi-Year Energy Program (PPE) set a target of 34,000 MW of onshore wind power by 2050.

Without counting the maritime wind (or “offshore”) to come. Annick Girardin, the Minister for the Sea, plans 50,000 MW, or 3% of the metropolitan maritime surface, for “land” (anchored to the bottom of the sea) or “floating” wind power.

What is the place of wind power in Europe?

The share of wind power in the European energy mix (including the United Kingdom) amounted to 16.4% in 2020, according to the European association WindEurope. A performance made possible thanks to the 220 gigawatts (GW) of capacity, a majority of which is installed in our Germanic neighbors. Denmark thus saw almost half (48%) of its electricity supplied by wind, Ireland 38%, Germany and the United Kingdom 27%. In this ranking, France is far behind with only 9%.

wind power in Europe
wind power in Europe

Is wind power necessary?

We already benefit from highly carbon-free nuclear energy, which emits as little CO2 as renewable energy: 12 g per kilowatt hour (kWh). So why bother installing new masts? “We will always need a substantial part of renewable to supplement it,” points out Alexandre Roesch, general delegate of the SER. Even by favoring energy sobriety, consumption will increase. “

In question: the electrification of uses and transport, or the revival of industry. From 490 terawatt-hours (TWh) today, it should rise to 750 TWh in 2050. All non-carbon energy resources will therefore be good to take.

What scenarios for the energy mix?

Last June, the network manager presented six possible scenarios of the energy mix in 2050 allowing compliance with climate commitments. Of which one containing 100% renewable, and another 50% nuclear, thanks to 14 EPRs and about fifteen small modular reactors (SMR).

“In all these scenarios, observes Jean-Louis Bal, president of the SER, renewable energy, and in particular land and sea wind power, plays a predominant role. “. On October 25, RTE will give the cost of each of these scenarios, including that of wind power.

What about dismantling and recycling?

This is another criticism that comes up often about wind power. Nothing would be planned to deconstruct and recycle the huge parks currently in operation. “This is false, protests Alexandre Roesch, the general delegate of the SER. Moreover, the wind sector has a 90% recycling obligation. And this threshold will even rise to 95% in 2024. With the obligation to fully excavate the 700 tonnes of concrete base, or the equivalent of two houses, of each wind turbine. “

The sector is also required to provision 50,000 euros per wind turbine during operation with a view to dismantling at the end of its life, plus a variable portion for machines over 2 MW.

Everything else is recycled, except the blades, which today mainly supply cement kilns. But new materials should soon allow them to be reused again.

And the price ?

The last call for tenders for the future offshore park off Dunkirk set a price per MWh at 44 euros. Regarding the land, it is around 65 euros. When the new nuclear exceeds, him, well the 100 euros. Enough to allow renewable energy to quickly emancipate itself from state support and establish itself as a credible competitor in the face of nuclear power.

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