We bid an Austrian farewell to EWEA’s man at the top...
The Renewable Energy Focus team – along with many on the wind power side of the renewable energy business – is looking forward to some top wind-related events coming up in the next few weeks and months…
First up on the events scene for wind power is the European Wind Energy Association’s EWEA 2013 Annual Event (taking place from 4-7 February), one of the leading annual events for the wind energy industry, certainly in Europe. This year’s event takes place in Vienna, Austria - personally one of my favourite three cities so I can’t wait to be back there again.
EWEA 2013 is invaluable in that it provides an international platform for sharing cross-sector knowledge and experience with the leading companies, the key players and the decision makers from across the wind energy industry. Renewable Energy Focus is proud to be supporting the event as a gold media partner, and both myself and Managing Editor Gail Rajgor will be attending. Feel free to get in touch with us either before or after the show and we can make sure we get round to see you and include your company’s innovations and offerings in any coverage we run.
This year’s event will be the last under the guidance of EWEA CEO Christian Kjaer, who has been an ever-present force for the organisation as it has driven the wind industry forward in Europe over the past decade or so. And he has been at the helm during a staggering period of change and progress, which even he admits has surpassed expectations.
Gail has interviewed him for our latest issue of the magazine (sign up here and then see page 12), and his overriding conclusion is that, of course, we have serious and daunting short and medium challenges to overcome, but wind power has grown enormously over the past few decades - from relatively modest beginnings to a mature energy technology that has taken its rightful place amongst the other electricity generating technologies.
As for the ongoing challenges and themes, no doubt these will be debated in depth during the event, but Christian also covers these eloquently in his interview: from giving the right signals to investors (he specifically gives the UK’s track record in the last 3 years as a good example of how not to do this); overcapacity of turbine manufacture over the past few years and how this is impacting on supply and demand; as well as the difficulty of constructing an electricity infrastructure that can accommodate a vastly increasing share of wind generated power… are just a few of the things he mentions.
Of course, any debate on renewable energy development would not be complete without mentioning the “s” word, and Christian covers subsidies alongside the more modern phenomenon of local content mandates. Anti-wind lobbyists frequently slam the fact that much renewable development is subsidised by mechanisms such as Feed-in Tariffs and tax credits.
But whisper it quietly and even some fully-committed wind proponents now believe wind power should be able to survive without subsidies (think of Exelon in the US, which was expelled from the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) for such comments, even though AWEA itself has suggested similar things - albeit a cessation of subsidies from 2019 - as it successfully lobbied for the recent extension to the PTC.
What is certain is that for this to happen, innovation needs to continue to play its part at the centre of the wind industry’s thinking. Such innovation has been crucial in the development of wind, especially for the European wind energy industry, and for the industry to continue its growth, it must strive to remain innovative in all aspects of its activities – from the products designed, to the political frameworks, and business models that shape the future direction of the industry.
Taken from the Jan/Feb 2013 issue of Renewable Energy Focus magazine. Sign up here for a free subscription.
Posted 22/01/2013 by David Hopwood
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