A new strategy for winning the war -- EWEA agrees to agree

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From now on the European wind industry will speak with a single voice and a with a single message. Gone are the days of policy discord with national wind power groups lobbying in Brussels for different policy goals, assures Corin Millais, the new director of the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA). "If we do not have a collective voice we will not get results," he says. The EU will get a harmonised system of support for renewables in the foreseeable future and EWEA will be contributing to the formation of that legislation, he adds. "We now have a common framework to make sure we speak with one voice."

Since Millais took up the reins at EWEA the association's communication strategy has undergone a fundamental overhaul, he says. EWEA will focus on three areas: lobbying, policy and markets. "Our strategy is not to fight lots of fires but see where we can be most effective," says Millais. Staffing levels have been expanded in recent weeks and now include a policy director and communications director as well as a project manager and director. "You don't win a war without an army and you don't win battles by talking about it. You win by engaging the industry. We have to be prepared," says Millais.

It's about jobs

"We are going into a mainstream industry of sustained growth. We have to crack open new markets, to expand outside of Spain, Germany and Denmark. The EU has been a demonstration bed, with 80% of the world wind market and 20 years experience. It's about jobs and the economy and taking a lead role. This is now. We have the technology. We can deliver."

Millais fired some well aimed shots at an audience of international oil and gas companies gathered in London last month. He told them that wind power will transform the entire energy sector and should no longer be regarded as alternative. "Wind power is a multi-billion euro business sector with a 35% annual growth in the last five years," he said. "The alternative tag for wind power should be ditched -- it is old fashioned and out of date. What happens next will be influenced by the players in [the oil and gas] sector more than ever before, and this is one reason why we need to increase our dialogue and involvement with the traditional energy sector -- because we're part of it."

The wind sector has the potential to be a EUR 25 billion annual industry in less than seven years, said Millais. "The wind turbine will have as profound an impact on the energy map as the oilrig does today." He pointed out that wind power contributes to diversification, opens new markets, provides a hedge against fuel price volatility and reduces environmental constraints. The wind sector today is actively engaged in energy markets, largely in electricity, he said.

"Wind power provides real business change, rather than superficial PR that sustains the status quo. The wind industry is a dynamic growth sector that requires significant investment, so inter-relationships with traditional energy players will become more evident."

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