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Germany

Germany

MEETING AT THE BORDER

The prospect of gleaning detailed advice and basic information drew most participants to the 5th Aachen Wind Energy Conference from October 28-29. Meantime, Energie 2030, a conglomerate of 12 environmental associations from Luxembourg, Belgium, Germany and Holland was making use of the conference for gaining cross border contacts. Through development of renewable projects it is aiming to move electricity production away from polluting sources by 2030.

However important the political trends of the day, it was the prospect of gleaning detailed advice and basic information which drew most participants to the 5th Aachen Wind Energy Conference from October 28-29. So revealed an opinion survey of the around 200 people from Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands who travelled to the German town of Aachen -- where the three borders meet.

The survey was conducted by the organisers, Wind e.V. of Aachen, to find out which of the conference's four themes were of most interest. The majority of votes went to "Guidance for the installation of wind turbines" and "Operator concepts/financing." How planning authorities are tackling the job of controlling the geographical spread of wind turbines was clearly of more specialist interest. So, too, was the debate over what share renewables can potentially take in Germany's electricity supply industry.

One group which is making the best possible use of cross border contacts is Energie 2030, with footholds in Aachen and in Belgian Eupen. Energie 2030 has three operating arms: the Energie 2030 Association, the Energie 2030 Co-operative: and the Energie 2030 agency, still being formed. The association is a conglomerate of 12 environmental associations from Luxembourg, Belgium, Germany and Holland aiming to move electricity production away from polluting sources by 2030.

The co-operative, with already over 100 members, was set up in July 1995 to develop renewable energy projects. It has one wind project under its belt and is now planning a second. The first, three Micon turbines at Herhahn near the Rursee lake, was carried out by Windenergie Nordeifel, a founding member of Energie 2030. The next wind project is to be in eastern Belgium and in 1996 Energie 2030 expects to install a large wind turbine in St Vith. "The municipality is supporting the project," reported the firm's Patrick Kelleter at the Aachen conference.

The international character of Energie 2030's ambitions certainly presents a challenge. The co-operative finances all projects from one pot, reducing the risk presented by the economic situation of any one country, explained Kelleter. For example, while the situation in Luxembourg is favourable -- wind generated electricity receives about DEM 0.2/kWh which is more than in Germany -- Belgium is another matter. "Belgian utility Electrabel sells electricity for BEF 5.6/kWh, but it pays a basic rate of only BEF 1.0/kWh (DEM 0.05/kWh) for electricity from renewables sources," said Kelleter. Since the beginning of January 1995, a bonus of BEF 1.0/kWh is also paid for four years for existing plant and for ten years for new plant.

Despite the poor payment for renewables, Kelleter reports that interest in east Belgium is blooming. It seems that plans for construction of a storage facility for radioactive waste from nuclear power stations at Amel has led the public to focus on energy alternatives.

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