On the socio-technical potential for onshore wind in Europe: a response to Enevoldsen et al. (2019), Energy Policy, 132, 1092-1100

R. McKenna* (Corresponding Author), D.S. Ryberg, I. Staffell, A.N. Hahmann, J. Schmidt, H. Heinrichs, S. Höltinger, J. Lilliestam, S. Pfenninger, M. Robinius, D. Stolten, T. Tröndle, S. Wehrle, J.M. Weinand

*Corresponding author for this work

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A recent article in this journal claimed to assess the socio-technical potential for onshore wind energy in Europe. We find the article to be severely flawed and raise concerns in five general areas. Firstly, the term socio-technical is not precisely defined, and is used by the authors to refer to a potential that others term as merely technical. Secondly, the study fails to account for over a decade of research in wind energy resource assessments. Thirdly, there are multiple issues with the use of input data and, because the study is opaque about many details, the effect of these errors cannot be reproduced. Fourthly, the method assumes a very high wind turbine capacity density of 10.73 MW/km2 across 40% of the land area in Europe with a generic 30% capacity factor. Fifthly, the authors find an implausibly high onshore wind potential, with 120% more capacity and 70% more generation than the highest results given elsewhere in the literature. Overall, we conclude that new research at higher spatial resolutions can make a valuable contribution to wind resource potential assessments. However, due to the missing literature review, the lack of transparency and the overly simplistic methodology, Enevoldsen et al. (2019) potentially mislead fellow scientists, policy makers and the general public.
Original languageEnglish
Article number111693
Number of pages6
JournalEnergy Policy
Early online date7 Aug 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2020


  • Onshore wind
  • Resource assessment
  • Public acceptance
  • Barriers
  • Feasibility


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