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Kyoto protocol significance

One of the major uncertainties hanging over the EWEC conference (main story) was the question of whether the Kyoto Protocol would be ratified in Bonn a few weeks later. Despite the intractable position of the United States, the mood at the conference was bullish and confident that Europe would go it alone if need be.

Karl Mallon of Greenpeace said wind energy could gain by providing a cheap way of lowering emissions. But he warned the renewables industry against expecting too much from the Kyoto Protocol in the early stages. "The compromise that may yet be done would mean that hardly any renewables get put in. It will all go in sinks and forest projects. It will all go to accounting consultants working out how much carbon is in a blade of grass," he said. It was important for Europe to retain independent drivers to deliver on clean energy. "We should keep the focus on clean energy independent of the environment," he advised.

Zero emission technologies such as wind are wrongly believed to be a burden, said Eurosolar's Hermann Scheer. Wind energy is showing it is economical and builds new industries more than any other form of generation. It should be viewed as an opportunity, he said. EWEA president Klaus Rave agreed. "We have been talking far too much about pain sharing, and need to talk about gain sharing."

There was general agreement among speakers that developing countries hold the key to future emissions control. "Developing countries means non grid-connected countries," said Rave. "So you cannot talk about solutions with big power plant." There was demand for small scale renewable plant, he said. "We need to help the global financial institutions to get programs off the ground that are in the range of micro lending."

Targeting developing countries was one of the priorities of the G8 task force on renewable energy, pointed out Hanreich who was one of the task force members (Windpower Monthly, August 2001). It had been the unanimous view of all the experts on the task force that the costs of renewable energy must be driven down, he reported. Costs can only be driven down by increasing markets and achieving higher deployment of wind energy and other renewable sources, to offer developing countries a viable energy alternative, he said.

The renewable energy industry needs to establish itself in developing markets before it is locked out by conventional forms of energy, warned Mallon. "Do not think it is all going to be plain sailing and that destiny is yours," he said. "Once the polluter does not have to pay, once conventional industry has worked out its access system for itself, and once it has decided its tariffs for big production, it is very hard to claw back that ground. ... If that ground is lost in developing countries, the industry is going to get locked out of huge markets." The wind industry has a good message to sell, it should go out and say why it is better than its pretenders he urged, reiterating some well-worn advice by Greenpeace to the industry.

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