Top EU journalists join EWEA trip to Portugal

» By | Published 10 Jul 2014 |

With its staunch commitment to wind energy and calls for an ambitious 2030 renewables target, Portugal represented an ideal European location for EWEA to host its annual press trip in 2014.

We invited journalists from across Europe to showcase the country’s renewables industry and push home the case for wind energy in member states.

EWEA, in partnership with our leading members and the Portuguese national association, planned and coordinated a bespoke and exclusive schedule, giving the nine participating reporters a unique and varied insight into Portugal’s drive for wind energy.

Highlights of the trip included a dinner, speech and Q&A with Portugal’s Energy and Environment Minister Jorge Moreira Da Silva; a visit to an EDPR control centre in the heart of Porto; presentations and a tour of an Enercon rotor blade factor in northern Portugal; a dinner and speech from APREN President Antonio Sa Da Costa and, finally, a boat trip to visit Principle Power’s offshore floating wind turbine in the Atlantic Ocean.

Throughout the two-day event, journalists enjoyed in-depth and informative discussions with representatives from EWEA’s lead sponsors to ensure they received the full picture of Portugal’s burgeoning renewables industry.

This resulted in significant, and above all positive, coverage of Europe’s wind industry in the international press in Demark, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, United Kingdom, Italy and Poland.

To date, twenty articles have been published.

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Cost reduction is one of the biggest challenges facing wind sector, says Allianz renewables chief

» By | Published 12 Mar 2014 |

Outside the box: finding new growth opportunitiesCost reduction is the one of the biggest challenges facing the wind energy industry today, according to Dave Jones, head of renewable energy at Allianz Capital Partners.

Speaking in a conference session on ´finding new growth opportunities´ at EWEA´s annual event in Barcelona, Jones said that reducing capital costs, particularly in offshore wind, must be an industry priority over the coming years.

Jones also commented on the Spanish renewables sector, which has hit a stumbling block after the country´s government – led by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy — slashed subsidies for producers in an effort to curb a 30 billion euro tariff deficit.

He said that the “past cannot be changed” in Spain and that “investor confidence has been damaged.”

Other session panelists included Francois Sterin, director of global infrastructure at Google, Tom Kiernan, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) and Niels Jongste of Green Giraffe Energy Bankers. Recharge Editor-in-Chief Ben Backwell and Canadian Wind Energy Association President Robert Hornung chaired the session.

Google´s PPA

Sterin – repeatedly questioned on Google´s power purchase agreements in Europe — told the audience that by investing in Sweden, the Internet giant is trying to make its data centres carbon neutral.

In January, Google announced a 10-year deal with Swedish firm Eolus Vind to power its Finnish data centre as of 2015.
The deal is part of the Silicon Valley-based company´s pledge to reduce its carbon footprint to zero.

Sterin said that the 10-year duration of Google´s PPAs strikes a “good balance” between Google´s interests and those of investors, adding that the company would like to partner with more utilities in future.

U.S. wind energy

AWEA chief Tom Kiernan stressed the challenges that wind energy is facing in the U.S. market.
He called for the Production Tax Credit – a vital subsidy for the U.S. wind industry – to be renewed after the government allowed it to expire at the end of 2013.

“Nuclear, coal, oil, gas all receive subsidies (in the U.S.)” he said, “(we need) a level playing field for wind.”
He added that there is a “good chance” that the PTC will be renewed in 2014, citing the substantial political support that wind energy has received in the U.S.

And it was Kiernan who had the final word, going on to say that he could see a scenario in the future where wind producers could compete with other energy sources without the need for the PTC.

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Ninety percent of Europeans want 2030 renewable energy target, EC poll shows

» By | Published 06 Mar 2014 |

Ninety percent of Europeans say their governments must set targets to increase the amount of renewables in the energy mix by 2030, according to a survey by Eurobarometer – the European Commission’s polling service.

In a special report gauging public opinion on climate change, the European Commission [EC] found that nine in ten Europeans are backing an increase in renewable energy targets.

While the poll did not ask whether a rise in the targets must also be legally binding at national level, it indicates that European citizens are in favour of pushing ahead on renewable technologies.

It comes at a time when policymakers in Brussels attempt to thrash out a new climate and energy package for 2030. In January, the European Commission proposed a flaccid RES target of 27%, a mere 7 percentage point hike on the current 2020 target, and not enforceable on each member state.

EWEA is calling for a binding target of no less than 30%, which would encourage investment and create 568,000 more jobs in Europe.

Fossil fuel imports

Eurobarometer’s poll also showed that 70% of Europeans believe that reducing fossil fuel imports would spur economic growth among the EU’s 28 member states at a time when many nations, particularly in southern Europe, are implementing harsh austerity measures.

EWEA Chief Executive Officer Thomas Becker said on 5 March: “Let us invest in wind and renewables – European energy sources which do not have to be imported, which will not run out, in industries in which Europe leads the world. Renewable energy is already providing well over 20% of our electricity and can do far more.”

In a report by The European Wind Energy Association [EWEA] called ‘Avoiding Fossil Fuel Costs with Wind Energy’, data from the EC shows that Europe spent €545 billion on fossil fuel imports in 2012 — that’s around three times more than the Greek bailout up to 2013.

The full report will be released on 10 March at the opening of EWEA’s Annual Event in Barcelona.

More information: www.ewea.org/annual2014

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