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EU white paper a deluding lullaby

Regarding "Europe sets three percent goal for wind" (Windpower Monthly, January 1998). Many people in Europe's renewables scene praise the Commission's White Paper as a great thing that will help us develop the full potential of renewables. But a more detailed look at the paper finds this is not so. There is a danger that all the fine words and big money will lull the renewables scene to sleep.

The so called ambitious target is absolutely not ambitious. The Commission forecasts installed wind power capacity growing to 30,000 MW by 2010, excluding another 10,000 MW from large wind farms. Today we have a wind capacity growth rate in Europe of more than 30%, with only three real wind countries: Denmark, Germany and Spain. Even at this rate we will reach the target in 2005 without any White Paper or Action Plan.

The Danish policy of decentralising its electricity system has given renewables a high potential for growth. The measures in the Action Plan are mostly against decentralisation. The 10,000 MW target for large wind farms can only be developed by utilities, cutting out private initiatives.

This might be good business for some utilities and some wind power companies, but is is not good for wind power in the long term. The EU intends to change our decentralised development to centralised development.

We have in Europe two very good political instruments for renewables, the policy of paying premium rates for wind power in Denmark, Germany and Spain, and a second policy for paying the full cost of solar energy in some German cities. Both instruments work well in a decentralised power structure, but both instruments are only a small part or a footnote in the White Paper. Instead, the Commission says much about measures that do not work.

We must learn from history. We can go the Danish way with a decentralised system and EFL, or we go the California way with special tax rules and the survival of the cheapest. The Commission will go the second way, changing the development of renewables from a people powered movement to an ordinary money business. To succeed with the Danish way in the whole of Europe, we must awake and fight against the official policies and all the lullabies.

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