NEW ENERGY AND ECONOMIC ERA
Arthouros Zervos, EWEA president,
speaking at EWEC 2009.
MARSEILLE, FR - European companies have
two thirds of the 35 billion global market for wind
power technology. Wind energy is Europe’s contribution to peace, progress and prosperity and we should urgently develop, promote and export it to the best of our ability.
EWEA has increased its 2020 target for installed
wind energy capacity in the EU from 180 GW to 230
GW, including 40 GW offshore. The agreement on
the EU Renewable Energy Directive in December
2008 and its mandatory 2020 renewables targets for
the Member States have increased our optimism for
the sector’s outlook. We have therefore increased our
targets. However, these targets will only be met if all
the Member States implement the directive swiftly
Previously, EWEA’s target was set at 180 GW of installed capacity in the EU by 2020, including 35 GW offshore. The new 230 GW target would produce approximately 600 TWh per year in the EU by 2020, power equivalent to the needs of 135 million average EU households (60% of EU households) and meeting between 14 and 18% of EU electricity demand (depending on total demand in 2020).
Keynote speakers from the opening session on March 16th spoke of the new energy and economic era. Mechtild Rothe, Vice President of the European Parliament, said that wind energy can make a real difference to employment and economies. "Wind energy is an excellent example of how to intelligently invest in a future-orientated sustainable economy getting thousands of people into jobs,” she said. “Especially in these times of uncertainty it is very important that the European wind energy industry has created more than 60,000 new jobs over the past five years. These are not mere statistics - this is the competitive strength of Europe. Wind energy has definitely become a driving force of our economies. We have learned from the current crisis that we should not wait until the problems are there before we act – we need to invest in wind energy now."
Nobuo Tanaka, Executive Director, International Energy Agency (IEA), focused on the environmental benefits of wind energy, saying that it “has an important role to play in climate change mitigation” but to tap into wind’s full potential “we need effective national policies and a strong international framework. We need to reinforce, expand and link up our transmission networks.” Tanaka went on to stress the importance of focusing economic recovery plans on green investments for a short-term stimulus and long-term benefits.
Roland Sundén, CEO of LM Glasfiber and Chair of EWEC 2009 said that “in 2008, more wind was installed in the EU than any other power generating technology. The track record of wind is the most visible proof that it creates great value. And as the financial and economic crisis deepens, this becomes especially relevant, and that relevance creates a historic window of opportunity for everybody who is committed to combating climate change, to supporting technological leadership and to creating new competitive exports and jobs.”
André Antolini, President of the French Renewable Energy Association (SER) cited France as a specific example of the difference wind can make to the economy. He said that “in France there are now over 130 companies that produce components for - or offer services to - the wind energy sector. Wind energy helps industry and the economy.”
Chantal Jouanno, French Secretary of State for ecology, reminded delegates that "the world has no choice but to enter a new energy era, which is essential for our energy autonomy and in order to maintain our country's wealth. The French energy evolution has already begun, and it must now start moving faster. We need to multiply our wind farms to reach 20,000 MW by 2020." Moving on to discuss the role of wind energy, Jouanno specified that "wind is one of the most competitive and promising forms of power, and it is nearly at market price. Wind energy will provide between one quarter and one third of France's total renewable energy target and it is essential that we support the wind sector."
‘It is imperative that EU heads of state pass the European Commission’s recovery plan at the spring summit. The plan must prioritize the technologies of tomorrow and ensure a green recovery, otherwise the stimulus will fail’, warned Christian Kjaer, EWEA Chief Executive. The ε565 million that the plan dedicates to finance offshore wind will create jobs, provide new R&D opportunities to make the power sector more efficient and less expensive, improve operations and maintenance, and speed up market deployment.
The proposed EU economic recovery plan currently sets aside ε3,900 billion for energy projects including over ε890million for key strategic interconnections in the power grid. The ε565 million for offshore wind includes the initiation of the first stage of a North Sea offshore grid. These measures will help unlock the largest European indigenous energy resource and stimulate Europe’s lagging economies.
Indeed, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) recently recommended that one third of the around $2.5 trillion-worth of planned stimulus packages worldwide should be used to 'green’ the world economy, as this would help “power the global economy out of recession”. The national recovery plans of the European countries do not even come close.
NEW POWER GRID
If the EU is to meet its CO2 reduction and renewables targets, improve security of supply and create real competition in the European power market, we need to extend our power grids and change the way we operate them.
An extended grid with changed operating procedures is necessary to rejuvenate the EU’s power system, and will help reduce its operational costs whether more wind is added or not. An upgraded grid would, however, also allow larger amounts of wind onto the system. As such, it would go a long way in helping the EU meet its 2020 targets, reduce CO2 emissions and ultimately make electricity more affordable for consumers.
At current fuel prices, electricity production costs from a new wind farm, coal plant and gas station are more or less the same. If a truly interconnected European grid existed and power markets were effective, the uncertainty of volatile carbon and fuel prices would ensure that wind, which avoids these unknown quantities, would become the most cost-effective of the three. We need the power markets to work to ensure that future investors are fully exposed to fuel and carbon price risk.
Moreover, EU power markets currently remain biased towards traditional fuels because they are dominated by vertically- integrated power companies. The European Commission’s third liberalisation package, currently being negotiated by the European Parliament and Council, aims to open markets up more by at least partially separating production and transmission activities.For a truly competitive market, the full ownership unbundling of the vertically- integrated power companies is necessary.
In the new Renewable Energy Directive, electricity from renewable sources has been guaranteed priority dispatch and priority access to the grid. In the absence of full unbundling, priority access and dispatch are both extremely important
for the sector. However, there are still issues such as bottlenecks (where parts of the grid are used to their full capacity) which restrict access to cheaper generation resources such as wind power.
There is now a total of 65 GW of wind power in the EU, which will, in a normal wind year, produce 142 TWh of electricity, equal to about 4.2% of the EU’s electricity demand. Wind energy is fuel free and so avoids volatile fuel and carbon costs. In 2008, while the oil price shot up to ε147 and came unsteadily down again, wind power avoided fuel costs of ε5.4 billion and CO2 costs of ε2.4 billion. Furthermore, increasing the use of wind diminishes our reliance on fuel imports from unstable regions - currently, Europe imports 54% of its energy, and this is set to grow to 70% by 2030. The money pouring out of Europe to satisfy our thirst for fuels must instead be invested in indigenous and infinite power sources.
The EU has a leadership position in renewable energy. By consolidating its expertise, it can provide technology exports to other countries, boosting its global stand¬ing and economy. In 2007, EU manufacturers installed 66% of new turbines globally. A wind turbine emits no CO2 or other pollutants, and over its 20-year life it will produce 80-120 times more en¬ergy than it consumes. Europe’s wind energy avoided the emission of 108 million tonnes of C02 in 2008 – equal to 31% of the EU-15’s Kyoto obligations and the equivalent of taking more than 50 million cars off the roads.
These figures demonstrate why wind is the first choice when it comes to new power installations, and why the sector has cause to celebrate at events such as EWEC. EWEA’s new 230 GW target for 2020 is one more example of the industry’s confidence and the growing recognition of what wind power can offer European citizens.
The sector is a significant creator of jobs – especially important at a time of such economic and financial instability. Between 2002 and 2007, direct employment in the sector increased by 125% - an average of 33 new jobs every day, seven days a week in Europe. The European wind energy sector employed 160,000 people directly and indirectly in 2008.
EWEC 2009 had over 7,500 participants, 1,900 delegates and 5,600 exhibition visitors. The exhibition featured 390 companies, making it three times bigger than EWEC 2008 in Brussels. EWEC 2010 will be held in Warsaw, Poland from April 20 to 23.