Autumn blues in Amsterdam

14.12.2017

This year the WindEurope invitation to the annual sector gathering was to Amsterdam. Exhibitor and visitor numbers have been better in the past, though, and the mood too.

The WindEurope Conference & Exhibition took place from 28th to 30th November in Amsterdam. The event organised by the European wind energy association WindEurope is one of the most important sector meetings each year, at least according to the raw figures; following the event the association published figures of 7,300 participants and 300 exhibitors.

The most-discussed figure at the event was the number 35, however. On the morning of the first event day the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) of the European Parliament published a new binding renewable energy target for the period after 2020. According to this, 35 % of energy demand in the EU is to be covered by renewable energy by 2030. In the January session of the European Parliament a corresponding resolution is to be passed on this.

In a joint statement by the event ambassadors Hans-Dieter Kettwig (Enercon), Markus Tacke (Siemens Gamesa), Gunnar Goebel (Vattenfall) and Andreas Runevard (Vestas), leading sector representatives in Amsterdam expressed satisfaction with this goal: “This target secures our worldwide market lead over the coming years,” they wrote.

This optimism was a long way short of being unanimous in Amsterdam, however. For quite a few the targets do not go far enough; the 35 % is not ambitious enough. There was also criticism of the national frameworks, especially in Germany.  WindEurope CEO Giles Dickson found clear words for this: “The cap must go. We cannot accept that there will be an expansion stop. 2.8 GW is too little.”

New markets

Because Germany is not the only established market currently being held back, the event theme this year mainly positioned itself away from the classical European markets such as Germany, Denmark and Great Britain. Instead, up-and-coming new markets got a chance to present themselves: Estonia, for example, and Lithuania.

13 % of electricity consumption in Lithuania is currently generated by renewable energy, and this is exclusively from wind power. Zygimantas Vaiciunas, Energy Minister of the Baltic state, said that more was on the way: “In 2030, 30 to 40 % of our energy consumption is to be green.” The plans of neighbouring Estonia are even more ambitious. This country was also present in Amsterdam with political representatives. “It is a clear sign when two of the three Baltic states are here on the podium of the opening press conference,” said Estonia’s State Secretary for Energy, Ando Leppiman.

His country has made it from a 0 % renewable energy share in 2000 to 17 % already in 2017. By 2030 it is to reach an ambitious 50 %, which certainly seems to be within reach when taking into account the speed of the expansion so far. The apparent European target of 35 % does indeed look weak in comparison, but Leppiman does not consider this to be a restraint on the ambitions of his own country. Concrete market frameworks in the individual countries are much more important than one target anyway. There was at least agreement on this point by all the market participants in Amsterdam.

Katharina Garus

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