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European Wind Energy Association appoints new CEO to replace Kjaer

Thomas Becker, a former Danish civil servant, will replace Christian Kjaer as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA), effective 1 April 2013.

Since 2010, Becker has been CEO of Genan - a company that recycles used tyres globally (and has an annual turnover of €100mn). Prior to that, he was Deputy Permanent Secretary at the Danish Ministry of Climate and Energy and has worked for the Danish Ministry of the Environment and for the Danish Environment Protection Agency.

Becker said he wants “to turn the crisis facing the wind industry today into an opportunity to show how wind energy could contribute to jobs, exports and green growth”. EWEA, he added, “has to be heard even more clearly in these difficult times”.

A strong post 2020 European renewable energy policy is the key to investor security and the industry's future, Becker said - a point repeatedly stressed by Christian Kjaer in a recent interview with Renewable Energy Focus. “As ever, the thing that’s needed is consistency with policy to bring investor confidence,” Kjaer said. “Long-term signals are extremely important.”

Kjaer's call for clarity

Citing the UK as an example, he continued: “The political signalling we’re getting from the UK government at the moment is very, very confusing. This is poison for investors and makes it much more challenging to build up a supply chain that can deliver the [offshore wind] ambition level.”

The British Government needs to clarify its pricing policy under its post-2017 support framework swiftly. “The message I’m getting from many of the project developers in the UK is that we’ve been waiting for the announcements, we’ve been waiting for the government to come out and clarify what’s going to happen after 2017,” he said. This lack of clarity is “poison for developing the technology, for creating the jobs and for building up a supply chain”.

Meantime, Kjaer notes that there’s been “a dramatic change” in the entire wind sector in the last two years. “We’ve basically gone from a seller’s market, if you look at onshore wind turbines, to a buyer’s market. We’ve seen these dramatic shifts in the balance between supply and demand for the technology before, but never at this peak,” he said.

The industry generally is challenged with is a number of short to medium-term issues, one being the cost of and availability of capital, as a result of all the measures taken after the financial crisis in the banking sector, he said. “Secondly, we are challenged by the fact that we’re not building infrastructure fast enough.” Governments, he said, “would do themselves a great favour if they made good on the promises they have made themselves”. 

The full interview with the outgoing EWEA CEO Christian Kjaer is due to be published in our January/February 2013 issue. Make sure you subscribe here to read Kjaer’s views on...

  • why Governments should perhaps look at removing support subsidies completely,

  • the dangers of local content mandates,

  • the need for Europe’s offshore sector to get its act in gear,

  • which key wind markets to watch in the next few years,

  • and much, much more.

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