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Interview with Dr. Volker Buddensiek, Editor-in-Chief, SONNE WIND und WÄRME, SUN and WIND ENERGY in The Windfair Newsletter - Date of interview: May 2, 2011

Windfair: Dr. Buddensiek, We are very happy to welcome you as the first trade magazine editor-in-chief to be interviewed in our redesigned newsletter. A lot of things have been declared since Fukushima regarding a worldwide expansion of renewable ener

Volker BuddensiekVolker Buddensiek
Volker Buddensiek: I am sceptical about whether the pithy statements made about a change of course in nuclear policy in Germany will really be followed by sufficient action. In the past, politicians have learnt that public pressure depends a lot on how present the subject is in the media. As Fukushima disappears from the headlines, the old and well-known arguments about rising electricity prices, the billions required for grid expansion and the weather-dependency of renewable infeed will reappear in talk shows and newspaper columns. If you look closely, you can see that the great relativisation process has already begun.
Onshore wind power will have to be prepared for an onslaught here. When I hear in a talk show – after Fukushima, I should add – that wind power may be environmentally friendly but isn’t people-friendly due to noise pollution, and additionally destroys the appearance of the landscape, then I know that the propaganda machine for conventional power generation has only ducked low for the time being and that the troops are still standing ready to advance again.
Internationally, the reactor catastrophe has led to even less of a change of thinking overall than in Germany. At the same time, many countries in Europe are experiencing hindrances to further renewable energy expansion.
But perhaps we should be clear about something; a sea-change in energy policy shouldn’t come about as a result of a reactor catastrophe and its consequences. The discussion about how we are going to achieve a sufficient supply of energy to all people worldwide if not by replacing conventional energy sources with renewable ones, is the more important and sustainable one in my opinion. Unfortunately this discussion is hardly being discussed publically.

Windfair: SUN & WIND ENERGY and especially the German edition SONNE WIND & WÄRME have been long-time companions of the renewables. When were the magazines first published? And how has your circulation developed over the years?

Buddensiek: SONNE WIND & WÄRME is already in its 35th year, and is thus itself a real pioneer on the German renewable energy landscape. Although the name of the magazine has changed in the past, the aim to provide an impartial platform of knowledge and information for all renewable energies has remained the same. Our readers know and value this. Since 2008 we have been publishing 18 editions a year, and since last year our print run has been 30,000 magazines per issue.
The sister magazine SUN & WIND ENERGY first came out in 2003. We were pioneers here too, and parallel to the growing internationalisation of the renewable energy market we have developed an independent international publication with its own main topics. SUN & WIND ENERGY now has a print run of 25,000 copies each month and is distributed worldwide.
By the way, both magazines are not only available in print form, but have also been available for quite some time now as an e-paper for downloading or “perusing” on the Internet.

Windfair: What is the ratio of wind energy content in your magazine?

Buddensiek: Wind power is an important part of our magazines. In the last few years we have worked intensively on the editorial profile of wind power and now receive nothing but praise for the high competence and up-to-date nature of our reporting.
While SUN & WIND ENERGY has a comprehensive wind power section in each of the twelve issues, in which we concentrate especially on turbine technology and logistics in the on- and offshore sectors, we are following a different course in SONNE WIND & WÄRME. Here, two of the four renewable energy technologies wind power, photovoltaics, solar heating and bioenergy are concentrated on in each issue. The two chosen sectors are then looked at comprehensively across the whole spectrum of their activities. Subjects such as service and maintenance, financing and insurance, planning approval practices and project management are thus discussed.
In each edition we have an extensive panorama section, in which we report on current news, exhibitions and the like from the wind power sector. You can thus say that our readers are brought up to date on wind power matters every three weeks.
Our Offshore Special in English, which we distributed internationally last year, was a new approach for us. We shall continue with this format in the future too: calmly and with Westphalian cool-headedness – with a view to finding a more permanent solution.

Windfair: How international is your magazine? In how many countries and in which ones is SUN & WIND ENERGY available?

Buddensiek: Last year magazines were sent to a total of approx. 150 countries. A main distribution area is, of course, Europe. Around 45 % of our circulation is read here. Approx. 22 % of each issue goes to the also important new markets in North America, and 20 % is distributed in Southern and Eastern Asia. The remainder is split up into 6, 4 and 3 percent to Africa and the Middle East, Latin and South America, and Australia, respectively. Within our worldwide distribution we always aim to be wherever strong future potential markets are developing.

Windfair: Are you working with international partners?

Buddensiek: We are continuously expanding our worldwide network of correspondents and now have journalists in the most important countries who provide us with articles and information. We shall continue this expansion because we don’t just want to describe a market and its rules “from outside” in SUN & WIND ENERGY articles. Just as project developers and manufacturers can normally only be successful abroad by having local partners, we also rely on the knowledge of insiders to be able to report on matters sufficiently and competently.

Windfair: What would you consider the biggest challenge your magazines have had to confront within the last few years?

Buddensiek: The challenges for us as an editorial office and publisher are not very different from those which other companies in the renewables sector have to master: growth and the internationalisation of the market. In 2009 an issue of SUN & WIND ENERGY had 170 pages on average, while the current issue 5/2011 has just broken the 300-page mark for the first time. Additionally, we are meanwhile producing our Special Editions on target markets such as Italy, France and China, but also on subjects such as offshore wind power. We are experiencing the same as many companies; we are growing, but growth also needs to be planned and managed.

Windfair: According to a new study by the German Wind Energy Association (BWE), there is still a tremendous potential for onshore wind energy in Germany. The study describes that up to 70% of the national power requirement could be delivered by onshore wind energy alone assuming the required permissions would be granted. This is likely to be the case in other countries as well.
With this in mind, what are the chances of success for the costly offshore market?

Buddensiek: Offshore wind power is receiving much more political support than onshore wind power. Supporting the offshore industry is also necessary if you want a quick expansion and a high share of wind power electricity on the grid. Other countries are significantly further than Germany here. On the other hand, one mustn’t separate off onshore wind power. Onshore wind power has the big advantage of being decentralised and closer to the users. It is a myth to claim that there are no more suitable sites in Germany. If politically motivated hurdles to planning approval fall, then onshore wind power can actually still be expanded considerably more strongly – at much lower costs than offshore wind power. And if we look across our borders, then things look even better for wind power. The hunger for energy is enormous and will continue to grow, there are enough areas available and the technology is ready – it is just political will which is lacking. And this takes us back to the beginning of the interview again.
Windfair editorial team

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