Global race for renewable technology is on

» By | Published 28 May 2010 |

Christian KjaerI was asked recently if I thought it was true that China is dragging its feet on emissions cuts because it is waiting until it has a clear lead in green technology, and then it will allow a post-Kyoto climate deal to go ahead, knowing it can sell its technology all over the world market.

There is no doubt that the global race for renewable energy technology leadership is on. It is also clear that delaying a global legally binding agreement on greenhouse gas reductions could help any competing country to overtake Europe. It makes sense for others to try to slow down European renewable energy technology advances while implementing ambitious industrial policy measures at home. It is not only China challenging European leadership, but also the United States, India, South Korea and a growing list of other nations.

Europe invented the Internet and left it for foreign companies to reap the commercial benefits. I would hate to see a similar development in wind energy. Increasing Europe’s emissions reduction target from 20 to 30% would be a smart move to help maintain Europe’s technological leadership. However, the European Commission’s Communication published this week fell short of recommending a 30% cut, which is disappointing. That’s why EWEA has written to MEPs urging them to agree to 30% domestic GHG reductions by 2020, in order to maintain Europe’s leadership in renewable energy technologies, particularly wind power.

A move to 30% would give a very strong signal to investors that Europe means business when it talks about green growth and a sustainable economy.

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1,000 turbine landmark reached

» By | Published 28 May 2010 |

EWEA’s campaign to support the development of wind energy across Europe reached a new high this week: over 1,000 turbines have now been adopted by citizens across Europe.

Campaign leader, Elke Zander, was at the European Maritime days event in Gijon, Northern Spain last week where her campaign received a positive welcome. “It is very encouraging to see people are interested to learn about our campaign and are keen to adopt turbines to support it,” she said.

Spain is also still the winner when it comes to the total number of turbines adopted, with 188 turbines already claimed, but Global Wind Day – the next big event – could well change that.

Zander is now looking forward to Global Wind Day on 15 June, designed to spread the message about the benefits of wind energy all over the world. Events will take place throughout the globe and EWEA is certain to make a big splash in Brussels by putting up a wind turbine blade on Rond Point Schuman from 1-15 June.

To adopt a turbine and find out more about the campaign, click here.
To find out what’s going on near you for Global Wind Day, click here.

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Caribbean renewables need shoring-up

» By | Published 28 May 2010 |

The cluster of nations in the Caribbean region has big visions when it comes to wind power and other renewable energies, but they need support from nations that have already forged ahead in the sector.

Carlisle Powell, the Natural Resources and Public Utilities Minister in the Nevis Island Administration, was recently quoted as lamenting the lack of advances in wind power in the Caribbean.

“We have been talking a good talk about wind energy for the last 20 years and only Jamaica and Nevis have made any real advances. Yet wind is widely used in Europe and Latin America,” he said.

Powell called for urgent and continued support from countries that have become world leaders in wind energy, in the form of help with wind studies, power purchase agreements, contracts, data evaluation, legislation and tariffs.

Cuba, the largest nation in the Caribbean, is developing its fledgling wind power sector. Recent reports say that four of six Goldwind turbines have now been connected at the Gibara II wind farm in Cuba’s Holguin province, about 565 kilometres east of Havana.

A Communist state with about 11.5 million people, Cuba is looking to capitalise on the potential of wind energy to produce more than 2000 MW to offset the import of 2,220 tonnes of petroleum into the country, articles published by the Xinhua News Agency and Reve say, adding that the current installed capacity is just 7.2 MW.

Despite the potential in the Caribbean region, the annual hurricane season poses considerable problems for the wind farm industry, which can experience infrastructure damages during brutal storms.

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Stronger EU leadership needed on move to 30% CO2 cut

» By | Published 27 May 2010 |

Disappointment in some quarters, relief in others – yesterday’s publication by the European Commission on moving beyond 20% greenhouse gas emission reductions was met by a mixed bag of reactions.

Heavy industries (no surprises there) along with France and Germany emerged as ‘protectors’ of jobs in traditional sectors, while environment groups and the Governments of  UK, Spain and Belgium backed a commitment to slash CO2 emissions by 30% by 2020.

Notably, Connie Hedegaard, European Commissioner for Climate Action,  warned that Europe could be on a path of long-term decline, affording space to the US and China to leap ahead in renewable energies. But she said the conditions are not yet right for a commitment to 30%.

“I think that in Europe we should also consider that you can risk losing jobs if you are too ambitious here, but there is also a price to pay if you stand still while your competitors move,” she said, quoted in the New York Times Green blog.

EWEA’s CEO, Christian Kjaer, said the EU is a “world leader” in wind energy, but it faces “serious competition” from the US, China, Japan, South Korea and India. “I would hate to see Europe losing out,” he said. EU officials have said China could be stalling a global deal on climate change in order to get ahead in renewable technology, the Daily Mail writes.

Niklas Hoehne from green consultancy Ecofys echoed this sentiment in saying, “if we stick with 20%, there will be fewer incentives for innovation.”

Chris Huhne, the newly appointed UK Energy and Climate Secretary urged other European countries to commit to 30% cuts: “Global climate change is the biggest challenge the world faces…that’s why we will push for the EU to demonstrate leadership by supporting an increase in the EU emissions reduction target to 30% by 2020,” he said, reported by the Times.

The cost of reducing CO2 emissions by 20% has fallen as a result of the financial crisis – from the original estimate of €70bn to €48bn today, with the leap to a 30% cut requiring just €11bn more – i.e well within our grasp, Spain’s El Pais notes.

But the financial crisis has fanned the flames in the protectionist direction too. Rainer Bruederle has asked for more time to get past the worst of the economic turmoil.  “At such a moment, it is legitimate to owe oneself more time,” he said this week.

Meanwhile, others hid behind the international community’s failure to reach a deal on climate change last December in Copenhagen. Business Europe, the European business lobby, said it was “convinced that any further increase of the EU’s unilateral 20% emission reduction target at this point in time would be unlikely to convince other nations to adopt comparable targets.”

Letdown at COP15 and the financial crisis are convenient pretexts that mask over the longer term problems of climate change and staying ahead in the global technological race, in particular in renewable energies. Let’s hope the short-term protectionist mask fades away and Europe takes stronger action to maintain its climate lead.

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Massive wind farm project will create electricity for two countries

» By | Published 26 May 2010 |

San Diego-based wind power developer Cannon Power Group and Gamesa Technology Corp. Inc. have agreed to build a series of huge wind farms known as the Aubanel Wind Project in Baja California about 25 kilometres south of the US-Mexico border.

The deal reportedly would see the installation of up to 500 wind turbines near the town of La Rumorosa in a region recognised as having one of the best wind resource areas in North America. Construction is expected to begin within 12 months and the project, which could cost up to $1 billion, will be built in phases over the next three to four years.

“This will be a win-win for Mexico and the United States — the clean power and jobs will be shared on both sides of the border,” Gary Hardke, Cannon’s President and Managing Director, said in announcing the project.

“We envision this as a major cross-border project — potentially in excess of a billion dollars — that can both stimulate the region’s economy and provide enough clean energy for over 250,000 households.”

A Cannon statement said the Aubanel Wind Project is expected to be one of North America’s largest wind farms with a potential capacity of 1,000 MW at various stages of development. The first phase of the project calls for the installation of between 70MW to 100MW of wind turbines.

Power produced from the initial phase of the project is expected to be sold to customers in Mexico first. While the project is expected to create substantial employment and economic development opportunities in Baja California, much of the equipment will likely come from the US where Gamesa has manufacturing facilities.

Dirk Matthys, Gamesa’s CEO in North America, described the agreement as exciting and said it “will further strengthen Gamesa’s leadership in the Mexican market where we already have a substantial presence.”

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