Germans ponder expulsion ultimatum -- Bitter association dispute

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German wind association Bundesverband Windenergie (BWE) is considering its response to an ultimatum from the European Wind Energy Association that it drop its founding support of an alternative wind energy association or be expelled from EWEA (Windpower Monthly, August 2001). BWE has until September 15 to respond. "We are giving it careful thought and want to give a considered reply that makes our position clear," says BWE director Heinrich Bartelt.

BWE is behind the formation of a "World Wind Energy Association," formed in July in an admittedly impromptu fashion to promote views on policy which oppose those of the mainstream wind associations, particularly those of Denmark, EWEA and the American Wind Energy Association. The public launching of the group took place on July 4 at EWEA's conference in Copenhagen, against the wishes of EWEA.

The alternative association has plans for a world wind event next year only two months after a world conference and exhibition hosted by EWEA and the American association. EWEA's conference organising partner, WIP of Munich, has defected to the German backed group, citing collaboration difficulties with EWEA over the Copenhagen conference.

In requesting BWE to drop its support of the new association and its event, EWEA president Klaus Rave stresses that the German actions have met with "unanimous disapproval" from the EWEA board and threaten to "cause severe damage to the EWEA and the entire wind energy sector." According to Rave, BWE's launch of the world association at the EWEA conference and plans for a world wind event had no other legitimisation than that of the BWE board. "A wide international audience was deceived and misled . . . into believing the event had wide ranging and semi-official international support." He adds: "Everybody understands that without the two largest international associations, the EWEA and the AWEA, an initiative of this sort will take place in a vacuum."

For its part BWE claims, in its publication New Energy, that in April EWEA was a party to the plans for both a new association and a world wind conference, but failed to attend the founding meeting of the association in Copenhagen on July 1. Rave admits that EWEA spent some weeks trying to reach a compromise with BWE, but categorically denies that EWEA was invited to the July 1 meeting. He dubs the whole process "absurd."

EWEA director Vicky Pollard says: "We spent too much time wrestling over details to reach a compromise, only to find in the end that the BWE refused to compromise." She adds: "Whatever the outcome we will then have time to get on with our task, which is lobbying rather than squabbling."

Behind the dispute lies a basic difference of philosophy between yesterday's "command and control" of markets and today's drive for more efficient free markets. While the broad wind industry is campaigning for a level playing field to facilitate full integration of wind power in competitive electricity markets on a par with established technologies, the BWE believes that market intervention in the form of government subsidies for purchase of wind power is the best approach in all markets.

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