By guest blogger Elke Zander
Finland is making huge steps to exploiting the power it has in the air, explained Anni Mikkonen, Executive Director of the Finnish Wind Power Association, at the Energia10 event in Tampere, Finland where EWEA brought its ‘Breath of fresh air’ campaign this week.
Two major obstacles to the development of wind energy have been addressed by the government and are currently in decision process with the Finnish parliament. Firstly, the lack of feed-in tariff to support wind energy. This is due to change from January 2011, the government says. The Finnish Wind Power Association is certain that with a feed-in tariff a major hurdle will be overcome, although Mikkonen stresses that the tariff levels are quite low, making near shore sites the most profitable in terms of wind energy.
Another issue has been spatial planning. Until now, two different plans had to be submitted: a local master plan and a local detailed plan. A new law has been designed now to only require the local master plan. This law proposal is with the parliament for decision as well.
A number of prominent members of the Navajo Nation, the largest tribe in the US, are beginning to advocate that economic activity created by wind power and other renewables should begin replacing coal mining on the band’s huge reservation, according to The New York Times.
Carrying the headline “Navajos Hope to Shift From Coal to Wind and Sun”, the NYT story also said that people are increasingly wondering about health and environmental concerns caused by coal mining and coal-fired power plants on the reservation that sprawls across parts of New Mexico, Utah and Arizona.
Published on Monday, the article noted some of the 300,000 people in the Navajo Nation — which covers about 70,000 square kilometers — are now speaking out against the smog, soot, water pollution and health problems long associated with the coal industry.
Offshore wind power in the UK received a huge boost of confidence on Monday with announcements that a number of international energy companies were going ahead with plans to invest heavily in the growing sector.
That the announcements came less than a week after the government signaled it would provide about €68m for port upgrades despite massive cuts to programmes and personnel proves once again that offshore wind power is becoming a key part of a new green economy.
The Wall Street Journal reported that GE, Siemens, Mitsubishi and Gamesa said they will invest more than €450 million in the UK’s offshore wind sector after the government announced a funding package to upgrade British ports so that they could handle the next generation of offshore wind turbines.
In a kingdom frequently divided by disagreement over matters political and beyond, it is heartening to see wind energy getting a resounding “yes” vote. The results of a survey published last week in Belgium show that 86% of Walloons – the French-speakers living in the south of the country – are pro wind energy.
What is most revealing in the results is the confirmation, once again, of the fact that when people live in the vicinity of a wind farm, they become much more actively pro-wind energy. The survey shows that a huge 91% of people with a wind farm in their area are favourable towards wind energy, while for those who do not live near a wind farm the figure is 62%.
And while the ‘NIMBY’ phenomenon is often considered to be one of the biggest obstacles to wind energy development, only 8% of people living near wind turbines said they “feared” the effects beforehand. Just a tiny minority of NIMBYs, then, and the majority of those were proven wrong: for three-quarters of this 8%, the fears proved to be unjustified once the turbines went up.
While short on details, the UK government’s Spending Review that Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne announced on Wednesday appears to have understood the vital importance of funding port infrastructure projects aimed at encouraging increased growth in the European offshore wind sector.
Although many national departments face significant funding and personnel cuts, the government did announce it “is committed to reducing the UK’s carbon emissions.”
Part of this commitment was a pledge of “more than [€220 million] for the development of low carbon technologies including offshore wind technology and manufacturing at port sites.”