EWEA 2013 opens with economic focus

EUROPE: The European Wind Energy Association conference in Vienna has opened with keynote addresses looking at the economic and political challenges currently facing wind.

The event opened with a short video and the headline "Things aren't what they used to be" and the image of a broken piggybank.

In what will be his last conference, EWEA's outgoing CEO Christian Kjaer said: "While the market for wind has changed, the benefits of the technology have not." Speaking about the decision to bring the event to Austria, he added: "In these days of economic uncertainty it's always good to see stable islands. Austria will install 4GW this year."

Other speakers included Irish energy minister Pat Rabbitte, who spoke about the need to develop energy trading between countries and the "need for governments to finalise their thinking" on this.

He added: "As we increase renewable energy capacity we need the ability to trade it. As we're an island system we're encountering these challenges earlier than others.

"There is work to be done in the internal energy market. [Trading of] electricity beyond frontiers is needed to give people the full benefit."

Rabbitte also spoke about Ireland's recent memorandum of understanding with the UK, which would see his country develop wind farms and sell the energy to the UK.

He was followed by Turkish energy minister Hasan Murat Mercan, who spoke about Turkey's investment plans for renewables. Mercan said Turkey wants to add 20GW in next 15 years, which would require $10 billion per year.

However, Mercan also added Turkey wants the wind sector to be as domestically based as possible.

EC vice president for the European Parliament critised the male dominance of the wind industry and recommended bringing women onto company boards. Previous experience showed "it brings great benefits".

International Energy Association chief economist Fatih Birol spoke about changes to the energy market such as the resurgence of oil and gas in North America. Also influences are the effects of Fukushima and countries are "pushing energy effiency buttons" because of cost. 

He also called for stable government policy.

At EWEA 2012, the addresses concerned the need for innovation and investment.There were also warning about wind and renewables being the first target of any austerity measures.

Windpower Monthly EWEA 2013 coverage.

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