EWEA staff on a wind turbine visit
On a recent late-October morning, EWEA staff set off early from our offices in Brussels to visit a wind farm. For many of us, it would the first time to get so close to the energy-producing giants that we spend our time promoting. The sun rose and we were confronted with a thick blanket of fog, which did not lift during the two hour drive to the Europarc, near Aachen in Germany. Not the best weather for viewing wind turbines. But we persevered.
Descending from the bus at the Europarc in Vetschau, we suddenly found ourselves at the base of a gigantic turbine, a 1.5 MW Enercon machine with a 66 metre rotor diameter. The blades were spinning silently in the breeze, shrouded by fog. This was an unusual turbine, specially designed for visiting, with a viewing platform on top and a safety ladder on the outside, allowing space for groups to climb the 65 metres to the top on a staircase inside. Within the turbine there were several floor levels off the stairs, for catching your breath on the 300 steps and listening to explanations on the construction of the turbine by our knowledgeable guide, Pieter De Greef from Windvision. The turbine is the same weight as 30 African elephants!
For those who realise the necessity of caring about where energy comes from, the internet is making things easier. People now have access to real-time information on renewable energy, allowing them to make intelligent energy use decisions.
For conscientious consumption of energy in Ireland, visiting www.energyelephant.com allows you to see the current status of electricity production from wind energy in the country, updated every 15 minutes.
The system couldn’t be simpler – it is a “smart energy traffic light”. An online traffic light shows green, amber or red. Trinity Sustainable Services International in Dublin, which is independent of any electricity generators, runs the system. Chief Executive Officer Joseph Borza told EWEA “If wind energy produces more than 20% of grid electricity it goes green, 10 – 20% amber, less than 10% red”.
A good newspaper is “a nation talking to itself”, playwright Arthur Miller once said. If so, then the conversation being played out on the pages of the agenda-setting Irish Times shows a nation that has not made up its mind on its energy future.
Irish wind energy recently made the headlines with the announcement that a 5000MW wind farm was planned for the midlands of the country, with the UK market in mind. ‘Ireland to the rescue – Plan to flow 3GW of Irish onshore wind power to the UK via consented grid connection can help Britain reach its 2020 targets’ said the cover story of energy magazine Recharge.
With some design flair and imagination, the significance of information lost in the deluge of facts and figures can be made clear. The current spate of infographics floating around the web has brought to light several important facts that had been buried in thick reports, until rescued by a graphic designer.
A current favourite on the various EWEA social media platforms (Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn AND Pinterest!) is an attractively designed infographic entitled ‘Europe’s Power Shift’. In muted tones of green, it tells a story that we should all be reminded of and aware of – that Europe, and in particular Scandinavia, is incorporating remarkable amounts of renewable energy into its power mix, with major changes occurring over the last ten years.
Plans to levy a charge of up to 11% of revenue on Spanish wind energy producers have been condemned by the industry there and are described as being “the final blow for wind energy” by President of the Spanish Wind Energy Association (AEE) Rocio Sicre. Media reports have said that the production of nuclear, hydroelectric and thermoelectric energy would be charged a lower 4 %, with an additional tax of 10 euros per megawatt for nuclear and 15 euros per megawatt for hydroelectric.
EWEA CEO Christian Kjaer has said that ““I am appalled by the proposal of the Spanish Government to introduce a discriminatory tax on wind power generation. Such a tax would destroy Spanish jobs, undermine world-class Spanish wind energy companies and set a very bad precedent for Governments in Europe and beyond. As such it poses a threat to the world-leading European wind industry.”