EWEA's opinion: European wind power reaches a milestone
It is true, as the ancient proverb declares, that time waits for no man. It is equally true that, according to a variety of sayings, the world can be changed by dreams, imagination and hard work.
The latest validation of those two axioms presented itself this past week when the perpetual counter established by the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) reached a milestone by recording wind power in Europe had generated more than 100 GWh of electricity since 1 January 2009.
In that same time frame, the EWEA counter also recorded that European wind power had attracted more than €6.8 billion of investment, saved more than 85 million tonnes of CO₂, and built close to 4,000 wind turbines.
Making those figures even more impressive is the fact that they were recorded during the middle of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
EWEA believes the counter figures continue to reinforce the obvious: onshore wind power is now a mature sector on the European energy industry. After all, in 2008, more wind power capacity was installed in the EU than any other electricity generating technology.
Despite our substantial and complex economic, energy and environmental challenges, Europe is counting on wind for technology leadership, climate protection, energy independence, commercial opportunities, exports and jobs.
Increasingly, policy makers, bureaucrats, entrepreneurs, environmentalists and journalists are realising that wind power is both successful and capable of providing even greater benefits for European citizens. Simply put, onshore wind power has proven it can provide certainty in uncertain times.
Europe is also in the process of replicating this considerable success story with the booming offshore wind sector, which is set to experience an immense expansion in the next few years.
Once the necessary offshore power grid is built, the supply chain is streamlined and the administrative obstacles are sorted out, the offshore wind sector will create for Europe staggering amounts of new, green, local, and affordable electricity.
A rapid expansion of offshore wind will also be accompanied by thousands of well-paying permanent jobs and an explosion in research and development which will help Europe maintain its leading status in other, related high-tech areas. In addition, a newly-charged offshore sector will mean less importation of dirty, expensive fossil fuels. Lastly, it will help Europe, and the world, deal with global warming caused by 150 years of CO₂ heating up our atmosphere to unsustainable levels.
The future of offshore wind energy will be discussed, debated, explored and celebrated at the EWEA-organised European Offshore Wind 2009 Conference in Stockholm on 14 -16 September. On display will be more than 3,000 participants, 260 exhibitors, 300 presentations, and 23 sessions.
Because of the amazing potential of offshore wind power, perhaps it will have its own wind counter one day.
To paraphrase the old saying, together we can make offshore work. We’d better, because the clock is ticking.