Ambassador Tom Hanney
Irish Ambassador to the European Union Tom Hanney is in the throes of a six month stint at the heart of decision making in Brussels, as Ireland currently holds the EU Presidency. The Deputy Permanent Representative says holding the Presidency is “a marathon, from January to June”. We met him to find out about Irish commitments to wind energy and why they have given so much support to Global Wind Day this year.
What motivated the Irish Presidency of the EU to support Global Wind Day 2013?
From a national point of view, wind energy is very important to Ireland. In the Irish government’s Renewable Energy Strategy, wind is identified as a key resource.
We have a lot of wind sweeping over the country given our geographical location. An increasing amount of our energy is produced from wind. We are committed to reaching our renewable energy targets under EU energy policy and we will be a net wind exporter. Overall, wind is a very important resource for Ireland and an increasing one, so therefore we support Global Wind Day.
Ireland is not on track for EU emissions targets and the reductions, but is well on track for our 20:20:20 commitment – that 20% of your energy has to be produced from renewable energy sources by 2020. We are at around 18% at the moment.
Do you think the EU needs 2030 renewable energy targets, similar to the 2020 targets?
In association with Global Wind Day, photographer Robert van Waarden travels to three different communities in Romania that have been inspired by wind energy. Read their stories below, and think about submitting your own wind energy inspired story and photo to the Global Wind Day 2013 photo competition which closes on 12 May!
Mayor of Progresu and Fácáeni
Roşu Nuţi was born in Progresu and has been the mayor here for 10 years. Her ambitious spirit is apparent the moment she walks in a room and if you need proof of how hard she works, one glance at her overflowing desk should help.
When Roşu first heard about the plan to construct a 44 turbine wind farm in the community, she immediately saw the benefits. However, as is always the case with something new in a community, there was some confusion and pessimism among the citizens.
Roşu spent a lot of energy organising and convincing the village that this was a good idea. Eventually they came around and ground will be broken on the project this year.
For Progresu and Fácáeni the money injected into the local economy will have a clear benefit. Infrastructure here is underdeveloped: roads are poor and horse-and-cart is still the mode of transport for many. Any local jobs that are created will be welcome in a village with an unemployment rate of 45%.
“The earth won’t be able to give us fossil fuels for eternity, and when we take into account the nuclear plant nearby, we prefer to have a field of turbines,” says Roşu.
Football fans know the value of a hat-trick – the triumvirate of goals that prove success for any striker. Though difficult to achieve, the hat-trick is worth striving for.
The European Renewable Energy Council (EREC) also wants to score a hat-trick. Their new publication proposes three targets to drive EU energy policy after 2020: renewable energy, greenhouse gas emissions and energy efficiency.
“This would yield more benefits for European citizens and industries than a one-legged policy” based on a greenhouse gas only approach, say EREC.
“The message is simple: if you want to lower costs, create jobs, replace fossil fuel imports and drive innovation, competitiveness and investment, then a hat-trick of climate and energy goals works best”, said Rainer Hinrich-Rahlwes, President of EREC.
EU Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger speaking in Brussels
At a special press briefing organized by The International Press Association in Brussels last night, EU Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger confirmed that he will be bringing forward proposals for post-2020 policy, before the current term of the Commission ends, which is 31 October 2014. He said that the Council would talk about binding targets in an orientation debate and that he favoured binding targets. He also said that the targets will be “pragmatic” and “sensitive”.
For 2020, the EU has committed to cutting its emissions to 20% below 1990 levels, as well as renewable energy and energy efficiency targets. A binding renewable energy target for 2030 would provide much needed confidence for the renewables industry, as well as secure commitment to tackle climate change from EU member states.
A new Danish survey on people living close to wind turbines shows that four out of five people feel there are no downsides to the experience – and 23 % of those surveyed became more positive towards the turbines within one year of installation. In addition, 59% of respondents answered “neither positive nor negative” to the question of whether their attitude changed over one year of living with the turbines in their midst.
The nationwide analysis, carried out by an independent consultancy, was based on interviews with 1,278 people living within a radius of 2 kilometres (1.25 miles) of a wind turbine that was at least 120 metres (394 feet) tall and had been in operation for a year at minimum. This height meant that these were modern turbines, installed between 2002 and 2011. The people lived close to 125 turbines, spread over 30 different wind projects.