Luxurious but at times impossibly dull

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Successful public speaking does not seem to be a skill possessed by many members of the wind industry and certainly not those at November's seminar in Spain. Overall, the papers presented by the 30 odd participants were crammed full of minute technicalities which, while probably fascinating for the initiated as take-away reading, were impossibly dull when vocally presented.

But not only the seminar speakers were at fault. The role of the chairmen was also inadequately defined and question time at the end of sessions was too often taken over by members of the audience with a personal axe to grind. There should have been considerable room for debate. All the ingredients were there -- representatives from private and public companies, investors, banks, manufacturers, environmentalists and dozens of newcomers desirous of breaking into the world of wind power -- but the forum sadly lacked the catalyst to bring it off. One wonders how many golden opportunities for the industry fell by the road, although Kenetech's Vice President, Glenn Ikemoto from the US, an old conference hand, seemed to regard the proceedings as the norm. "At the beginning," he said, "they are all like this -- extremely technical -- but that'll change with time. Southern Europe is just waking up to the idea. They'll get more commercial."

In contrast, the Spanish Institute for Energy Conservation and Diversification which organised the seminar, knew how to turn the event into an occasion to remember. The venue at the Hotel Monasterio San Miguel combined all the modern comforts of a five star hotel and unspoiled features of the former monastery it was, while the extra-curricula events provided a unique opportunity to visit the Tarifa wind farm and an exhibition of Spain's famous dancing horses, four course dinner included. "One thing I have learnt," said Bengt Tammelin of Finland's Meteorological Institute, "Spaniards certainly know how to entertain."

Anthony Luke

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