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Europe in danger of losing wind technology lead, warns Vestas CEO Engel

EUROPE: Europe could be overtaken by either the US or China as the leading developer of wind technology, believes Vestas president and CEO Ditlev Engel.

Vestas president and CEO Ditlev Engel
Vestas president and CEO Ditlev Engel

Speaking at a Green Party-organised conference in the European Parliament in Brussels, Engel told MEPs the EU was a front-runner in terms of renewables and particularly wind technology, but warned this was no longer "a given thing".

Engel said the EU had to act now to safeguard its technological lead and hold onto the opportunity to create hundreds of thousands of jobs both now and in the future.

We have not yet lost it, he said, but highlighted the competition from other nations such as the US and, more specifically, China, which last year became the largest wind industry market.
Engel said Europe needed to focus on three priorities:

  • Training people for jobs that may not yet have been invented
  • Agreeing a reduction target for greenhouse gas emissions of 30% by 2020 - a 10% increase on the currently agreed decrease of 20% by this date compared to 1990 levels.
  • Implementing the energy targets that have already been adopted by, for example, investing heavily in infrastructure to improve grid access and transmission, but not through green protectionism within or outside the EU.

"Green protectionism may be understandable in these [difficult economic] times," said Engel, but he insisted it was important the EU remained united.

"We must oppose these measures at home and abroad," he added. "We must not segment the internal [EU] market into micro-markets as we will lose competition and innovation. Bilateral policies are a mistake."

Engel urged the EU to "focus", to "push itself out of its comfort zone" and look to at how best to innovate.

There have been suggestions recently that the global growth in wind power could also force Vestas to lose its position as market leader as competitors such as Siemens Wind Power increase their market share.

However, Engel refused to speculate on the future market share of his company. Speaking to Windpower Monthly he said: "Our first milestone is 2015 when we want to see €15 billion in revenue, compared to €7 billion in 2009.What this will mean in terms of market share, we will see."

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