New federation

German wind station operators are in the process of setting up a new lobby organisation to be named "Wirtschaftsverband Windkraftwerke" (WW). Translated, the title means economic federation of wind power stations. Some 50 representatives of wind power stations, operating 150-200 MW of wind capacity with plans for a further 500-600 MW, met in Neumuenster in September to discuss guidelines for the new organisation, inaugurated on October 8.

The WW aims at being a "tough economic federation which can build substantial battle funds with which to fight for its members' interests," says Uwe Carstensen of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Windenergie, who is involved in setting up the new organisation. WW points out that wind energy has been pushed into the defensive by the sheer might of the utility sector's publicity machine. It now intends to take on the task of commissioning studies on political and scientific issues to provide more information on the benefits of wind. It will also work with existing renewable energy associations in providing economic and legal services to its members. Carstensen adds that WW will be the first organisation for independent power producers in Germany, but will not compete with other wind or renewable organisations.

The idea has been met with some opposition from two existing wind energy organisations, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Windenergie and the Interessenverband Windkraft Binnenland, which are now merging into one group. Having at last got close to combining their forces, critics from these two associations see their strength being splintered once more. But proponents of WW say there is a desperate need for an organisation to promote the economic interests of renewable power station operators whereas the two existing organisations are concerned with the promotion of wind energy on a broader, ideological front.

WW's first move will be to commission a study on the economics of wind energy "to counter the often hairy figures put about by the utilities," says Carstensen.