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Press2007, News

Europeans are embracing wind power

16.06.2007

Brussels, June 15 - The official launch today of the first European Wind Day signals the unprecedented mainstream support for wind energy, attendees at the European Wind Energy Association’s (EWEA) press conference heard today. This pan-European awareness campaign is taking place over the next several days in 22 different countries with 62 separate events across the continent.

Today’s press conference was held at the heart of the European quarter. Speakers included:

Andris Piebalgs: EU Commissioner for Energy
Evelyne Huytebroeck: Energy and Environment Minister – Brussels region
Kris Peeters: Energy and Environment Minister – Flemish region
Philippe Van Troeye: General Manager Generation Electrabel
Arthouros Zervos: President of the European Wind Energy Association
Christian Kjaer: CEO - European Wind Energy Association

The campaign was ceremonially launched by Commissioner Piebalgs in smashing a bottle of champagne against the European Wind Day centerpiece, a 25 m. wind turbine erected in the centre of the Schuman roundabout at the heart of the European quarter.

“We need to make big changes,” EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs confirmed. “Today we see that the technology is there and we can master whatever is necessary to achieve climate change and security of supply goals. We should be ambitious...and wind is one of the best ways. It is important that each citizen understand why we are doing this and why it is necessary.”

The necessity of wind power was explained by EWEA CEO Christian Kjaer: “In the 21st century the energy battle will be won by those countries and regions of the world that follows a strategy of developing, deploying and exporting renewable energy technology to a world that cannot afford to live without it.”

Opportunity knocks

The recently introduced 20% EU binding target for renewable energy by 2020 offers both a challenge and tremendous opportunity, with wind energy leading the charge in meeting this target. Wind energy alone can contribute up to 16% of Europe’s electricity needs by 2020, EWEA estimates, given the necessary political will and progressive policy implementation.

“Let us hope that with the efforts of the regions, the Member States and the support of the European Union,” Minister Peeters proposed, “that The European Wind Day will become the start of a global wind age.”

Many benefits of wind energy

Wind energy not only has the potential to satisfy much needed energy demand but is also a significant and vital stimulus to local economies. Already wind technology is the second largest contributor to European employment and economic activity in the power generation sector.

“We now recognize the potential of wind energy,” Minister Evelyne Huytebroeck confirmed. “Wind energy allows us to create new jobs and technological advantage, and as such I fully support The European Wind Day.”

Needed: An Energy Shift

Europe’s current reliance on imported fossils fuels can not be sustained given the predicted rise in energy consumption. At current rates dependence on imported oil and gas could rise to 70% by 2030, which would constitute a devastating transfer of wealth out of Europe.

“We are at a defining moment in time,” explained Kjaer. “Over the coming two decades Europe will witness the largest turnover in electricity generating capacity she has ever experienced. We must use this opportunity to make a radical shift in the structure of our energy supply.”

Wind on the rise

For the seventh consecutive year wind energy is second to only gas, in terms of new installed capacity, for all of Europe. Today wind power in the EU produces electricity equivalent to the consumption of 25 million households, and would be even more if energy efficiency is improved. Public support for wind energy is equally on the rise: 71% of EU citizens today are “very positive” about the use of wind power in their country, according to the latest Eurobarometer opinion surveys.

Commissioner Piebalgs concluded in explaining that “the European Wind Day should be taken as a necessary event where the public is learning about the benefits that we are achieving through renewable energies in general and in particular wind energy. Wind energy will be seen more and more taking its place in the EU energy supply”

Kjaer agreed, proposing that “Europe should bet on wind power to secure the future welfare and prosperity of its citizens.”

The European Wind Day was made possible through the generous support of Electrabel, who are “delighted and honored to support the first European Wind Day…it is not only because the event crystallizes the promotion of wind generation in Europe,” said Mr. Van Troeye, “it is also because it fits in perfectly with the pursuit of sustainable development which has been acknowledged as a guiding principle by Electrabel.”

Note to editors:

EWEA is the voice of the wind industry - actively promoting the utilisation of wind power in Europe and worldwide. EWEA members from 40 countries include over 300 companies, associations and research institutions. These members include manufacturers covering 98% of the world wind power market, component suppliers, research institutes, national wind and renewables associations, developers, electricity providers, finance and insurance companies and consultants. This combined strength makes EWEA the world’s largest and most powerful wind energy network.

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