The strengths of forward thinking

Recent news developments will have left many in the wind power sector wondering whether the glass is half full or half empty. With the late-2008 global financial meltdown still reverberating through our economies and political unrest in North Africa and the Middle East occupying politicians' minds, there has been little progress on far-reaching energy policy.

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Pessimists will conclude that the dominance of traditional sources of energy will continue for decades to come. Concerns about climate change are still prevalent and new fears about nuclear power emerged after the Japanese disaster in March. But the public's attention has undoubtedly shifted to making ends meet under difficult circumstances in the case of the more stable countries - or to achieving a transition to a new political regime in many others. This makes the job of policymakers eager to push for ambitious renewable-energy targets much more difficult.

But the optimists will not let the lack of decisive action towards clean-energy goals dispirit them. Despite uncertainty about energy reform on the US front and a worrying backlash against renewables in some parts of Europe, alternative forms of energy - and wind power in particular - are an undisputed success story.

The wind industry has managed to wade through a very difficult two years and is now ready to move forward at a healthy pace again. According to the latest findings of BTM Consult's authoritative annual report on international wind energy development, this year will mark a turning point for the industry, with consolidation and globalisation trends strongly affirming themselves (see page 89).

The recent surge of mergers and acquisitions is now an unmistakable trend (see page 17). Having crossed the bridge that separates a niche operation from a fully developed industry, the wind sector is now witnessing the volume and level of consolidation deals that other global industries have experienced in the past.

With wind farms appearing in every corner of the world and offshore wind rapidly gaining ground on its grown-up onshore sibling, it was inevitable that companies would seek to pre-empt supply-chain shortages and realise greater economies of scale. The outlook for enterprises able to extend their footprint through the right alliances is rosy. The opportunities are limitless.

Fully fledged business sector

And it is not only engineering or manufacturing firms that are waking up to the potential of this sector. Global brands such as Ikea, WalMart and Google have made significant advances in the wind energy arena. Deal after deal, they are showing the world that wind power is no longer an ambitious and expensive alternative energy choice but a fully fledged business sector that can deliver good profits.

The details of what the future holds for the wind sector may well be uncertain, but, in the words of the BTM report, "long-term prospects remain solid".

With a growing number of players entering the fray and an increasing range of variables affecting the sector's dynamics, it is now more important than ever for established players and would-be participants to be fully informed of how things are shaping up so they can make the right choices when new opportunities arise.

We will ensure we continue to play our role in uncovering trends and unveiling prospects.

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