Utility dampens hope for wind

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Contrary to a belief held by some withing the wind community that Joint Implementation (JI) projects can contribute effectively to global economy and climate protection policies, the boss of utility giant Preussenelektra, Arend Cobi, has serious doubts about their feasibility. "It certainly won't manage to become the motor for export of energy generating plant" in the near future, says Cobi.

JI, a United Nations initiative, aims for the reduction of CO2 emissions by creating markets in the developing world for cleaner technology. Under JI, companies can invest in emission abatement programmes or projects in another country, receiving tradeable CO2 credits in return to help them meet pollution reduction criteria at home.

As potential sites for wind turbines become scarce in Germany, wind developers have seen JI as a sign of hope for future new markets. But Cobi's remarks, made at last year's Husum Wind trade fair, echo previous criticisms of the concept, which have warned that industry has little incentive to continue research and development of clean power technologies if it can clock-up pollution credits with existing plant in JI schemes (Windpower Monthly, November 1996).

Not a hope

"For the foreseeable future Joint Implementation is not expected to be a promoting concept for the German export of wind power plant. From the start I want to dampen any great hopes that may be linked to these measures," Cobi says.

Renewable energies seem an attractive and elegant possibility for implementing JI projects, but they certainly aren't the most efficient climate protection model, he argues. Wind turbines will have difficulty competing with conventional power stations and upgrading measures on existing power stations in JI projects, he adds.

Until the pilot phase of JI is complete in 2000, no credits will be issued. Germany has seven out of the total of 41 JI projects underway. The pilot phase has only another 14 months to run, but as of yet "hardly any experience could be gathered on the extent to which this theoretical model can be used in practice," Cobi remarks.

Preussenelektra installed two 600 kW wind turbines in Latvia in 1995 with the support of the German Eldorado programme. With the experience of just this small exercise, Cobi warns that "the worldwide implementation of the Joint Implementation system will involve an enormous bureaucratic and administrative effort." One problem is that JI is not an economically attractive proposition. A project is only "implemented jointly" if it "would not have been undertaken without the existence of JI," says Cobi.

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