The release of EWEA’s offshore statistics for the first half of 2013 generated a lot of column inches around the world. The headlines were generally positive, reporting on the 277 offshore wind turbines newly grid connected in the first six months of this year. But the articles did not shy away from reporting on the warning signs evident in the sector, where financing of new projects has slowed down to a crawl.
Many reports focused on the details of new offshore capacity, compared with the same period last year. The first half of 2012 saw around 500 MW installed, so this year’s 1,045MW was a doubling of that figure. The total offshore capacity installed last year, at 1.2GW, has almost been surpassed in the first six months of this year, bringing the overall offshore capacity in Europe to 6.04GW across 58 wind farms in ten countries.
The European Parliament
On their second time around, European MEP’s yesterday voted in favour of ‘backloading’. This means that the number of permits to pollute released under the Emissions Trading System (ETS) will be temporarily reduced by 900 million tonnes of carbon. This will increase the cost of carbon to industry and create an incentive to pollute less. The vote will also “build confidence in the ETS” said Rémi Gruet, the European Wind Energy Association’s (EWEA) Senior Regulatory Affairs Advisor.
The cost of carbon to polluters recently slumped to an all-time low, threatening the relevance of the world’s biggest carbon market. Prices had lost more than 70% in the past four years. Worsened by the economic crisis, the over-supply of permits reached 2 billion metric tonnes in 2012, equal to the EU’s annual limit imposed on 12,000 power plants and factories.
In a European Commission building in Brussels yesterday morning, high-level representatives from business groups, renewable energy, the chemical industry, the gas industry, a health and environment alliance and an MEP battled it out in front of an audience of over 100. The topic was EU energy policy after 2020s.
The scene was set by Moderator Arthur Neslen, Climate and Energy Editor at Euractiv. On the panel beside him were Thomas Becker, CEO EWEA; Anne Stauffer, HEAL; Ms Beate Raabe, Secretary General of Eurogas; Peter Botschek, Director of Energy & Health, Safety & Environment, Cefic; Adrian Van den Hoven, Deputy Director General, BUSINESSEUROPE and Frauke Thies, Policy Director of the European Photovoltaic Industry Association. MEP Claude Turmes also joined the debate.
The lively two-hour debate generated some interesting quotes.
EWEA CEO Thomas Becker made the point that “We should demand that politicians take us there because the market will not do it by itself”, referring to the fact that the EU has decided to be almost carbon free by 2050.
Of the 200 events worldwide for Global Wind Day 2013, some were organised close enough to Brussels that European Wind Energy Association staff were able to visit. The wind farm WaseWind, close to Antwerp was one such location. There they met hordes of local school kids and their teachers, who had cycled there to inspect the turbines for themselves.
WaseWind’s motto is ‘Samen WaseWind oogsten’ which means ‘harvesting the wind together in the Wase region’. That motto shapes the company’s structure and daily work as a cooperative wind farm: only local citizens can buy shares, and only as many as they need for their own supply. Christa Schaut from WaseWind explained that currently, over 1,600 people in the region own shares – and profit from them with lower bills on electricity. A small group started off the project in 2002, managing to get all necessary permits for construction starting in 2005. Since then, WaseWind has expanded several times, always triggering a lot of interest in shares.
An image from the Wake-up Call app
The global temperature is rising. Freak weather events are multiplying. Climate change is happening.
And yet governments are giving $6 to polluting fossil fuels for every $1 dollar that goes to clean renewables.
World leaders must move now to renewable, clean energy sources like wind energy. And with the new Global Wind Day app you can tell them to do it and why.
On 17 and 18 June, leaders of the governments of the world’s eight wealthiest countries are meeting in the UK. The leaders of these countries, such as Barack Obama, Vladimir Putin, Angela Merkel and François Hollande, are ultimately responsible for the continuing and growing support for dirty fossil fuels given by their governments. Such subsidies are up nearly 30% from 2010 to $523bn in 2011 (IEA, 2012) compared to $88bn for renewables.