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The Technology Platform for Wind Energy Took Off Today

19.10.2006

Today, the European Technology Platform for Wind Energy was born. At the launch, Energy Commissioner, Andris Piebalgs, gave the opening address followed by Mechtild Rothe, Member of the European Parliament (MEP).

Introducing the session at the Charlemagne building, Arthouros Zervos, President of the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA), focused on the first objective of the platform: to map out the priorities for wind energy research up to 2030 and to direct public and private funding towards targeted research areas. “Wind energy is already a European success story but it is still just a shadow of what it could be. Long term R&D, and policy development to build markets must be undertaken if wind energy is to contribute to one fifth of the European electricity supply in the coming decades”, added the President of EWEA, also Chairman of the Advisory Council of the Platform.

Energy Commissioner, Andris Piebalgs, started his speech reminding the audience of the Commission’s will to develop an Energy policy for Europe focusing on three crucial challenges: climate change, security of supply and competitiveness. “In the current context of climate crisis and energy uncertainty, we need to review the whole energy philosophy: we need to develop energy sources that do not use carbon, energy sources that are located in Europe, sources that are cost effective and competitive in the global market. This is the reason why this Technology Platform for wind energy is so important. It will lead to more wind energy in the future and we need it.”

“I believe in wind energy and particularly in offshore wind. But there are still limitations linked to costs, to grid integration, etc. The wind sector needs a network and still needs R&D. I think that the platform will really make a difference. I’m happy that the Commission is supporting it”, added Andris Piebalgs.

The Commissioner recalled the Renewable Energy Road Map currently under preparation in the Commission: “I believe in a target-based approach”, explained Piebalgs, “and I believe it should be ambitious and should include sectoral targets”.

Member of the European Parliament, Mechtild Rothe, is also convinced that the Technology Platform for wind energy will play a significant role in the development of the sector. “It will help reduce the cost of the technology and bring together all the wind actors. I believe the platform will also lead to a better development of wind energy in the countries that are still not committed enough to wind.”

Rothe stressed that the wind energy technology has made considerable progress but has not exhausted its potential for further technological development. “Offshore wind has to play an essential role in the near future. Therefore, a strong focus should be put on it, initially through the adoption of a European Offshore Action Plan that the Commission should set up”, she added.

Representatives from Member State Ministries gave the audience a national view on the future role of the technology platform. “In my opinion, if we want to guarantee a sustainable energy future, energy efficiency and renewable energy sources are key”, said Joachim Nick-Leptin from the Federal Ministry for Environment in Germany. “In my country, the main R&D priorities are the development of offshore wind, grid integration, cost reduction but also research on environment issues especially for offshore. I’m convinced that my neighbours are facing similar challenges. Therefore, we see the technology platform as a great opportunity to strengthen the collaboration between national programmes and sharing of national experiences. There is a crucial need to join efforts and work together in the research field.”

The wind industry pointed out the priority research needs for the necessary development of the wind energy sector:

• Frank Nielsen from LM Glasfiber focused on the need to reduce the cost of energy. “We have to constantly improve the existing technology and constantly test new machines, new blades; and constantly fine tune the methods of design. With this new platform, it is now the chance to come together and be stronger on a global market which is becoming more and more competitive. TP Wind is the necessary tool to share our knowledge”, added Frank Nielsen.

• For Strom Madsen from Vestas “Europe needs to invest massively in R&D if we don’t want to loose the leadership we have today”. The Technology Platform should set up a common agenda for R&D priorities in Europe and we should all work on the same projects – in order not to dilute the funding and speak with one voice.”

• In Acciona, R&D efforts are directed at improving the reliability of machines and developing prototypes for offshore turbines (5 MW turbines).

Nick Gardiner, Director Energy & Utilities at Fortisbank, closed the launch with a perspective from the financial community. He described how financial institutions assess the risk of wind projects: “we look at wind studies (e.g. site selection, wind predictability); we also look at who will buy the power, what will be the maintenance needs, etc”. For these financial partners the platform represents an important means to learn more about the functioning of the wind sector.

For more information about the technology platform and its composition, please visit: http://www.windplatform.eu

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