United Kingdom

United Kingdom

Not glamorous but businesslike

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The surroundings of the Wembley conference centre could never be described as glamorous. Indeed, several delegates from overseas commented that the area in south-west London less resembled a prestigious international conference centre than a building site as work continues apace nearby on a new UK national sports stadium. But most of those attending maintained that the quality of the event more than made up for its shabby setting.

Conference presentations were made by 220 speakers and chairmen contributing to 40 scientific, technical, business and policy sessions. A further 300 poster presentations were ranged outside the conference rooms. Despite a dense program, the timetable still allowed for all-important networking. From the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA), Bruce Douglas points out that the 1711 attendance figure for the conference was similar to the previous EWEA event in Madrid in 2003. Visitor numbers to the exhibition, however, were very much higher at 2565, he says.

The 255 exhibitors, a 60% increase over last time, were a record for an EWEA event. Reaction among exhibitors was overwhelmingly positive. "There is a lot of upbeat feeling among the exhibitors. A feeling of activity, that it is all moving. The location is incredibly good timing for what is happening in the British market," said Steen Broust from LM Glasfiber.

Andreas Wagner of GE Wind said the exhibition was well attended by the right people -- with a large share coming from the scientific and supplier community. "The audience is not the same as at a real trade fair, as this is a combined event, with the conference historically being more important," he pointed out.

"The throughput of people has been very good," commented exhibitor Steve Squires from the UK's Trinity House, the UK lighthouse authority which is assisting the offshore wind power industry. "Excellent" was another verdict from visitor Tim Kirby of Ecogen, a British consultancy firm on local wind plant development. "This is serious business. This is how it has got to be," he added.

Douglas reveals that getting the right quality of visitor was all important. EWEA's pricing policy was to restrict entrance to professionals, "because that is what our exhibitors want." He adds that the much higher attendance from the business community included private equity firms, finance houses and banks who have not been seen at wind conferences before.

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