Photovoltaic and wind energy potential in Europe – A systematic review
In a context of increased renewable energy development, a growing number of studies are seeking to determine its potential. Their results provide a crucial input to long-term energy planning studies, dispatch simulations and energy policy design. This study conducts a systematic literature review of photovoltaic and wind energy potential in Europe to identify good practice in the calculation of such potential and compares the values obtained in the literature. The potential values are very heterogeneous, and the reasons for these differences are analyzed. 74% of these values exceed the capacities planned in energy transition long-term scenarios, confirming that such scenarios generally take into account studies of potential. This hides disparities, depending on the country and the technology: in general, wind power is more constrained than photovoltaics, and in particular several estimates for offshore wind power potential in Germany are lower than the capacities envisioned in some energy transition scenarios. Because the technical criteria are not limiting, some studies assessing potentials include other – political or aesthetic – criteria to give plausible development values for the potential. Assessments of renewable potential should be more explicit and cautious in their treatment of these criteria because the latter are linked to political will, hence their relevance to quantify a “potential”, as opposed to a politically plausible scenario, is debatable.