EWEA rebrands to recognise industry growth

BELGIUM: WindEurope, the rebranded European Wind Energy Association, was revealed in Brussels as utility Enel Green Power CEO Francesco Venturini was voted in as chairman.

WindEurope CEO Giles Dickson (far right) leads a panel debate in Brussels, Belgium

The new name recognises the industry’s transformation over the 34 years of the association’s history. What was a niche energy sector is now a "large mainstream industry", employing a quarter of a million people in Europe, and with a turnover of €67 billion, said WindEurope CEO Giles Dickson.

Europe has been at the forefront of wind power technology and development, which now provides 11% of the continent’s electricity. The challenges for an established market are different from an emerging one, said Dickson.

The new chairman, Venturini, will hold the post for 18 months, and is the first to come from the utility sector for some years, another recognition of the changing landscape of wind’s role in the energy mix across Europe.

Venturini is CEO of Enel Green Power, the renewables arm of Italian utility Enel. His company, which built the first wind farm in Italy, has been diversifying into emerging markets, especially those offering opportunities for more than one of its technologies, which include solar, geothermal and biomass.

"Having one of the world’s largest utilities at the helm of WindEurope, with their expertise across the power sector, is a great opportunity for us to drive the further expansion and integration of wind in Europe’s energy system," said Dickson.

Wind is an important and growing part of Europe’s industry base, said Venturini. Europe has over 40% of wind turbines operating around the world, but investment in renewables dropped from a peak in 2011 of €129 billion to €58.5 billion in 2015, the lowest figure since 2006.

The objectives for WindEurope, he said, would include: full and efficient integration of wind energy on to the energy markets through an effective design framework at EU and national levels; streamlining the extension of licences and connection rights to encourage revamping or repowering of ageing wind assets; increasing the EU target from 27% to at least 30% renewables by 2030; strengthening the EU emissions trading scheme; and boosting finance and schemes to promote research.

"We need to have a long-term strategy to drive investor confidence that will fully unleash Europe’s wind potential. If we don’t, others will," he said.

Venturini takesover from Siemens Wind Power CEO Markus Tacke who had been in the role since 2014

The rebranding comes a day after the organisation called on the EU to "rewrite" the rules on the energy markets.