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New EWEA CEO gives hard-hitting interview in EWEA OFFSHORE 2013 preview

EWEA OFFSHORE 2013 | 19 - 21 NOVEMBER 2013, FRANKFURT, GERMANY The world's largest offshore wind energy event

New EWEA CEO gives hard-hitting interview in EWEA OFFSHORE 2013 previewNew EWEA CEO gives hard-hitting interview in EWEA OFFSHORE 2013 preview

Featuring insightful articles and cutting-edge interviews, the comprehensive preview (published by Recharge) provides a taster of what is to come at this 3-day conference and exhibition.


Europe’s politicians must adopt a strong 2030 renewable-energy target to give the EU a chance o fachieving its aim of creating a carbon-free society by 2050. “I think there is a strong need to repeat the success of the 2020 renewables  target for 2030 if you want wind energy to carry on growing,” European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) chief  executive Thomas Becker tells Recharge “Otherwise the curve will be very steep to get to where we need to be in  2050.”

Becker calls on Europe to adopt a 2030 triple target: “One for renewable energy, one for carbon dioxide emissions, and the other for energy efficiency, which all supplement each other very well. You cannot have one without the other  two.” Countering the critics, Becker claims wind power can compete without any subsidies “if we have a level playing field”. He points out that nuclear and fossil fuels “are extremely subsidised industries, both directly and indirectly”. 

“Nuclear power has existed for over 60 years, but we still haven’t solved the waste problem, so I question whether that is good technology. Secondly, can we afford these enormous nuclear subsidies, paid for by taxpayers?” Becker claims nobody wants to build a nuclear plant today without having secured a long-term fixed-rate electricity contract.

“For these reasons I think nuclear is outdated and belongs in the old world, because it doesn’t conform with today’s energy market.” Most notably, the UK and Poland have so far been unwilling to sign up to 2030 targets. “I keep being  surprised by the UK, which has this enormous wind potential, particularly offshore. You could create a small industrial revolution in the UK, yet the government is not supporting it by positioning itself in the right way in Brussels.”

He says the UK will find it difficult to attract new wind supply-chain investors if the industry cannot be sure the  political commitment is in place after 2020. “It is not the wind industry that is the problem in European energy policy.  It will adapt to whichever framework the politicians create. “The industry needs guidance, and of course they will want to have secure locations to make their investment. That is why I am always saying it is up to politicians to create that secure environment for investors.”

The European Commission is due to present concrete proposals on 2030 energy and climate targets by the end of  this year, allowing the European Council to return to the issue in March 2014. The heads of 12 national wind-energy associations from across Europe, meeting in Spain on 16 September, made a strong united call on the commission to adopt a binding 2030 renewables target. “By giving investors certainty, a compulsory 2030 renewables target will allow the wind sector to continue to grow and provide green jobs and revenue at the lowest cost for Europe,” said Becker after the meeting.

Those attending the meeting agreed to an ambitious co-ordinated effort across European capitals to try to influence national governments ahead of the March European Council meeting. Becker cites five reasons to rapidly deploy renewables: “For energy security; to maintain our European independence; for the economic and job benefits; for
CO2 savings; and to create and develop an industry by which we can export to other markets.” “Done in the right way, we can still be a world leader in developing these renewables technologies. Do we have so many other big industrial adventures in Europe with ideas that can make us rich? I don’t see them.”

He expresses grave concern over European countries cutting back on renewables support. “I understand the dynamics of those who are having to act, as some of these countries are in a difficult financial position. However, this should never be retroactive, as otherwise it will only create bigger problems later on.”

He says that the Czech  Republic — which is ending financial support for new renewables projects from the start of next year — is having to  import coal to meet its energy requirements. “This is a country with a lot of hydro possibilities as well as relatively good wind and solar resources. All the money they are now going to spend importing coal would be much better spent finding a new sustainable internal energy supply. “Our wish is to have wind farms  across Europe, and offshore farms particularly in Northwest Europe, able to transport energy throughout Europe, via a supergrid.

So on days when the wind doesn’t blow quite so hard in one region, in another it might be stronger, thus balancing out
the system. “We need to carry on making Europe a showcase for renewables — a place with the most wind turbines working effectively with supergrids to transport electricity at the cheapest prices to where it is needed.”

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Posted by Trevor Sievert, Online Editorial Journalist / By EWEA Staff
European Wind Energy Association

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