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Wind energy gives Europe a competitive advantage

Wind energy gives Europe a competitive advantage, according to the EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebagls speaking at the European Wind Energy Conference and Exhibition (EWEC).

“Wind energy can replace a large proportion of the polluting and finite fuels we currently rely on,” Piebalgs said. “It makes good sense to invest in indigenous sources of power which hedge against unpredictable fossil fuel prices and in which Europe has a real competitive advantage”.

According to the European Commission, 3.5% of the world’s proven coal reserves are in the EU. The EU sits on less than 2% of the world’s gas; less than 2% of uranium stocks and under 1% of the world’s oil.

On the other hand, Europe has plenty of wind and plays a dominant role in the world’s wind energy markets.

According to Arthouros Zervos, President of the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA), “European companies have two thirds of the €35 billion global market for wind power technology. Wind energy is Europe’s contribution to peace, progress and prosperity and we should urgently develop, promote and export it to the best of our ability.”

The Economics of Wind Power - report

Wind energy’s contribution to prosperity is analysed in detail in the EWEA report The Economics of Wind Power launched at EWEC.

The report provides a detailed insight into wind energy economics and compares the costs of wind to those of other power-generating technologies.

Zervos announced that EWEA has increased its 2020 target for installed wind energy capacity in the EU from 180 GW to 230 GW, including 40 GW offshore.

He explained that “the agreement on the EU Renewable Energy Directive in December 2008 and its mandatory 2020 renewables targets for the Member States have increased our optimism for the sector’s outlook. We have therefore increased our targets. However, these targets will only be met if all the Member States implement the directive swiftly and effectively.”

Previously, EWEA’s target was set at 180 GW of installed wind capacity in the EU by 2020, including 35 GW offshore wind. The new 230 GW target would produce approximately 600 TWh per year in the EU by 2020, meeting between 14 and 18% of EU electricity demand (depending on total demand in 2020).

Roland Sundén, CEO of LM Glasfiber and Chair of EWEC 2009 said that “in 2008, more wind was installed in the EU than any other power generating technology. The track record of wind is the most visible proof that it creates great value. And as the financial and economic crises deepen, this becomes especially relevant, and that relevance creates a historic window of opportunity for everybody who is committed to combating climate change, to supporting technological leadership and to creating new competitive exports and jobs.”

André Antolini, President of the French Renewable Energy Association (SER) cited France as a specific example of the difference wind can make to the economy. He said that “in France there are now over 130 companies that produce components for - or offer services to - the wind energy sector. Wind energy helps industry and the economy.”

Marcin Korolec, Secretary of State for the Ministry of the Economy in Poland, agreed: “The development of wind energy stimulates the whole economy, particularly at times of crisis”, he said.

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