Ministerial visit a positive signal, renergie 97

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The prominent presence of two government ministers at the opening of the Renergie 97 trade fair and conference in Germany got the four-day event off to a good start in early June. Held in Hamm in the inland state North Rhine Westfalia, this year's Renergie was the fourth to be organised by local company Öko-Zentrum and attracted around 100 exhibitors.

As they strolled around the fair, the two ministers, Social Democrat Wolfgang Clement and Michael Vesper of the Green Party/Bündis 90, seemed to be demonstrating that red/green politics is working in North Rhine Westfalia -- and that they could be relied upon to pull in the same direction on renewables in a federal government after elections next year. Clement stressed the need for taking up export possibilities while Vesper urged greater use of renewable energies at home in the state.

Wind energy was represented by just 25 companies who were mainly present with small, low key stands. Enercon was the exception. In Hamm it re-erected the two storey house with fairy-tale aura which had been used at the sustainable energy trade fair in Amsterdam the week before. The exhibition was dominated, however, by the central North Rhine Westfalia stand acting as an umbrella for many small firms. Outside the hall wind was more visible, with nacelles from both Nordex and Micon.

A conference on renewable energies, organised by Winkra-Recom of Hannover, was held in parallel with the trade fair. One day was devoted to wind issues and the wind hall was filled for much of the time with between 80 and 130 people, rather more than at the previous year's event. "Perhaps it reflects the fact that the inland market is growing -- especially in North Rhine Westfalia," speculated Joachim Behnke from Winkra-Recom.

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