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United Kingdom

United Kingdom

Not the best

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Set above the historic town of Stirling and overlooked by the Wallace Monument -- and further away the Ochil Hills -- the stunning location of the University of Stirling was not enough to entice many people to this year's conference held June 15-17. Even the number of exhibitors was only 25 -- down from 30 last year. All the major European turbine manufacturers were there again, however. "It is a useful venue to renew contact with our customers," said one. Zond UK, British subsidiary of the American turbine manufacturer, exhibited for the first time at a British event and appeared as one of the conference's sponsors. This year the exhibitors were generally pleased with the area set aside for the exhibition in the University's "art gallery," saying there was plenty of room and it was not too far from the main conference hall. But the overall impression among delegates was that Stirling was definitely not the best conference to date. "There was a real feeling of 'here we are again'," was typical of some of the comments. The organisation of the event was felt to be somewhat haphazard, but this was compensated by the generally higher quality and content of the papers. The news that next year's conference is to be held at one of the largest hotels in Blackpool was greeted with relief by many delegates who have had enough of a university setting. "We were all students once. Now it's over, thank you," said one conference veteran. The move to a more prestigious location next March reflects an industry that has come of age. "It is a maturing industry," said an exhibitor. "It is now time to reflect the growing professionalism in the choice of venue." Not all agreed with this view. One of the larger British wind farm developers professed not to mind a university venue. "The accommodation is a bit basic, but we are still a young industry and have got to nurture other parts of it. Some of the people who come here will not be able to afford the cost of a plush ho

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