I Love Windpower brings wind energy and identity to Mali

» By | Published 12 Aug 2013 |
Piet Willem Chevalier, Den Haag, the Netherlands

Piet Willem Chevalier

“If I had to sum it up in one word, I would say identity,” says Piet Willem Chevalier, owner and operator of I Love Windpower. “On my first trip to Mali, I saw this group of people that were really shy, that didn’t want to ask questions, they had no confidence. After we made that first turbine, we threw a party and it was quite amazing to see how this sense of identity grew.”

One day while driving in the Netherlands Piet became transfixed by a set of wind turbines and literally drove off the road,. He couldn’t have known at that time that this incident would change his life. In a few years he would be bringing wind power to Mali where the poorest communities often pay the highest rates for energy.

One thing led to another and Piet started working as an engineer for Siemens wind. After about a year Piet discovered the work of Welsh engineer, Hugh Piggott. Mr. Piggott is the inventor of an open source, affordable, small-scale wind turbine design. Piet invited Hugh to come and teach a workshop in the Netherlands. It took some convincing, but Mr. Piggott finally agreed.

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British public wants wind energy – but government has different plans

» By | Published 07 Aug 2013 |

Off2An overwhelming majority of the public in the UK approve of the government providing financial support for renewable energy technologies, according to a new survey. The YouGov poll for the Sunday Times found support from across the political spectrum, with Conservative, Labour, Lib Dem and UKIP voters all agreeing that the government should continue investing in low-carbon technologies.

The survey found 65% of respondents in favour of government spending money for wind power, while 76% said the same for tidal energy and 78% backed financial support for solar. In comparison, only 49% approved of public financial support for nuclear, 57% for clean coal and just 40% said the government should provide support for shale gas. 47% of respondents considered shale gas projects as damaging to the environment.

Despite this, Chancellor George Osborne recently revealed tax breaks for the fracking industry, with a 30% tax rate for onshore shale gas production, much lower than oil taxes. Osborne called his new tax regime “the most generous for shale in the world”.

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EU wind industry faces critical worker shortage

» By | Published 05 Aug 2013 |

Workers-Wanted-TPwind-2The European wind industry has grown so rapidly over the past decade that it is facing a critical shortage of skilled personnel, a new report reveals. There is currently a shortage of 7,000 qualified personnel required by the European wind energy sector each year, a figure that could increase to 15,000 by 2030 if the number of graduates taking courses relevant to the industry does not rise.

The figures come from a new report by the European Wind Energy Technology Platform (TPWind), based on research by renewable energy consultancy GL Garrad Hassan: “Workers wanted: The EU wind energy sector skills gap”. A full 78% of companies that responded to the TPWind questionnaire said they “found it difficult or very difficult to find suitably trained staff”. This in an EU with an overall 11% unemployment rate, and a youth unemployment rate of 20.9% (5.5 million people between the ages of 15-24).

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New energy policy from European Investment Bank welcomed

» By | Published 29 Jul 2013 |

smoke stacksAfter a meeting last week in Luxembourg, the board of the European Investment Bank (EIB) changed its energy lending policy. The EU’s main lending arm said it would stop financing most coal-fired power stations to help reduce pollution and meet climate targets, and devote 90% of its lending to clean energy.

In a press release, the EIB says it ‘will focus on financing energy efficiency, renewable energy, energy networks, as well as related research and innovation. These sectors are expected to require the most significant investment in coming years’.

According to the Guardian the EIB has loaned around €11bn ($14.5bn) to fossil fuel-fired plants since 2007, most of it to gas rather than coal, out of its total lending for power of €83bn.

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Jobs on offshore wind turbines prompt futuristic design proposals

» By | Published 25 Jul 2013 |

web_morphocode-wind-loft-conceptGrowing interest in the rapidly-expanding offshore wind sector took a new twist earlier this week when the website of the influential US magazine Popular Science published an article featuring marine-based wind turbine concepts with “super-chic lofts for employees.”

The article said that a Bulgarian design firm predicts a future in which gigantic offshore wind turbines come equipped with futuristic housing for workers.

“Part of the inspiration for these lofts was a European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) report estimating that by 2030, there will be over 300,000 jobs in offshore wind power,” the article said.

In fact, the European wind industry faces a severe skills shortage of around 7,000 appropriately qualified staff per year. This shortfall could climb to 15,000 by 2030 — nearly 2% of the entire wind industry workforce — if numbers of suitable workers don’t increase.

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