Wind energy bosses reveal their forecasts for the state of the sector in 2020

March 12, 2014 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

Technology advances will boost the wind energy industry

Technology advances will boost the wind energy industry

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Europe’s wind energy chiefs have delivered a series of predictions that they believe will shape the market sector by the year 2020.

At a meeting of EWEA 2014 in Barcelona this week, the CEOs forecast an end to regulatory uncertainty, increasing levels of consolidation within the industry and leaps ahead in technology.

We will see “advanced technology that is subsidy free,” said Anne McEntee, Vice-President of renewables at GE, adding that the sector needs to get more inventive. Xabier Viteri, CEO of renewables at Iberdrola, agreeed saying that technological breakthroughs and innovations will surface by 2020.

While Anders Runevad, President and CEO of Vestas, said that in the offshore market we will be “starting to see the results of offshore investments,” Viteri said that cost cutting in offshore “is a must”. “Without cost reductions there will be no offshore industry after 2020,” he warned, adding that costs must come down by at least 40%.

Alfonso Faubel, Senior Vice President at Alstom Wind, said that a lot needs to be done in the offshore value chain, but he noted that in France his company’s new offshore projects will create 8,000 jobs.

Meanwhile, João Paulo Costeria, CEO of EDP renewables sounded a note of caution on the electricity grid, saying that we will still be talking about interconnection by 2020. Coming from a US perspective, McEntee said that in Europe every country has its own grid which is a suboptimal approach. Grids should be interconnected or optimalised nationally, she stated.

For Xabier Etxeberria, Business Chief Executive Officer at Gamesa, the industry must cooperate and share its knowledge to move forward. “Together we can win,” he said.

Wind energy can create hundreds of jobs as part of a new climate change-aware world, said Eddie O’Connor, founder and CEO of Mainstream Renewables. O’Connor described this point in time as a “massive opportunity to go entirely renewable.”

He was referring to today’s threat of rising sea levels which could swamp many of the world’s major cities – a consequence of climate change in turn fuelled by carbon emissions. The fact remains that we are emitting the equivalent of “four Hiroshima bombs into the atmosphere every second of every minute of every day.”

And, if we ignore the threat of climate change, “how do we actually get the money to pay for the consequences?” he asked. If we don’t pay attention to climate change, we might not have a species, he warned.

By 2050, 90% of the EU’s electricity can be powered by renewables, O’Connor said. Meanwhile, for Paolo Frankl, head of renewable energy division at the International Energy Agency (IEA), a level of 58% renewables by 2030, rising to 70% by 2050 is attainable.

But to reach these levels “we need a robust CO2 price, a price that has a meaning”, greater flexibility in electricity markets and more interconnections, Frankl said. We need to work out how to fit in new power generation and phase out the old – “this is a massive power transformation,” he said.

Alexandre Affre, director of industrial affairs at Business Europe, backed the call for a stronger carbon pricing as part of the European Emissions Trading System. He also said a greenhouse gas reduction target for 2030 is needed, and said that Europe must continue to build renewables.

However, he questioned whether or not Europe has been “too quick” and has “gone too far” with its renewables build-out, chiding the continent’s “excessive subsidies” and questionable priority grid access for renewables, he said.

Turning to another issue high-up on the energy agenda – costs – Frankl underlined that the high price of fossil fuels is the driver behind today’s high energy prices. “The high prices of fossil fuels is the problem number one in the last five years in Europe,” he said. Rounding-up cost the issue, O’Connor asked: “What can be cheaper than an energy system based on 95% free fuel?”



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