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United States

A grand gesture for mutual benefit

Six of the world's largest wind turbine manufacturers pledged last month to pool their resources to "gather and exchange information to define specific needs for achieving 20 percent wind energy by 2030" in the United States. The grand gesture was made at the American wind industry's annual get together with the public signing of a "memorandum of understanding" under the watchful eye of the initiative's instigator, the US Department of Energy's assistant secretary for renewables, Andy Karsner.

According to Karsner, GE Energy, Siemens Power Generation, Vestas Wind Systems, Clipper Turbine Works, Suzlon Energy and Gamesa Corporation will work together to improve wind turbine reliability, tackle unnecessary restrictions on where wind plant can be built, improve and expand public education of a wind industry workforce, set technology standards for turbine certification and develop universally accepted grid codes for connection of wind plant to electricity networks.

Close questioning on exactly how the arch rivals will put aside competitive interests for the common good failed to elicit detailed answers. Vestas' Peter Brun, head of government relations, said the initiative was a sign of the wind industry's maturity and professionalism. Other industries work hand-in-hand with government to achieve broad policy aims, agreed the panel of six. It was time for the wind industry to do so too. "You have to start somewhere. This is a very good start," said Brun. We hope the US administration will be developing something like the EU 20% vision."

Karsner said the industry will get together each year to set the agenda. The era of great private efforts to move industry forward has disappeared, he said. "It is up to the federal government to step in." A broad industry voice can achieve more than companies speaking alone. Moreover, if company leaders meet regularly, undue replication of one another's efforts can be avoided, he said. "It is a rationalisation of the global agenda."

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