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Brussels Brief October 2016 Foreword


Giles Dickson

WindEurope Summit 2016: serving the industry

The WindEurope Summit 2016 in Hamburg has come and gone – and was a success. We had over 1,700 participants and 300 speakers across more than 50 sessions.

We covered a wide range of issues: technology, cost reduction, government policy, energy markets, financing of wind investments public engagement … And we had some great speakers from industry, government, finance, academia and elsewhere. The feedback from participants has been positive.

To those of you who came, we would like to thank you on behalf of WindEurope and the Event Ambassadors, and we hope you got a lot out of it. To those of you who weren’t able to, can I recommend our new flagship report “Making Transition Work” which we issued at the event. It’s on our website along with a short video summarising the main messages. The conference proceedings are also available.

We were also able to use the event to support our advocacy and to take forward some important operational activity.

On the advocacy side, we pushed our messages on energy policy and electricity markets with German Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel, EU Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic and a number of other Ministers. And we got some encouraging feedback. Gabriel endorsed our messages on priority dispatch and the need for stable regulation and echoed them loudly to the Commission. We also launched an investor protection coalition that’s calling for the EU to make it harder for Member States to change support schemes retroactively – and pushing for a new EU dispute settlement mechanism. And we presented to the Commission the industry’s recommendations for the EU’s next calls for proposals for wind R&D spending.

On the more operational side, we held a meeting of our new Ports Platform which brings together those ports involved in offshore wind with the marine supply chain. And we launched the “WE engage” toolkit for public engagement which gives project developers the best practice on getting local communities on board with new wind investments.

The whole theme of the Summit was ‘Making Transition Work’. And the main messages were: – renewables are displacing fossil fuels; – but the immediate outlook for wind in Europe isn’t as good as it should be, because government policies are not right – and we don’t have the right electricity markets; – we need to sort out the policy and reform power markets and the EU’s forthcoming renewables package is a key opportunity to do this; – we also need to keep investing in innovation to reduce costs; and – we need to do more to electrify transport and heating to boost demand for renewables.

We made it clear that Europe has lost its global leadership in renewables and would only regain it if it ensured a vibrant home market for wind investments – by following the recommendations set out above.

The Summit ended with IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol addressing the gala dinner. He spoke of how both developed and emerging economies were now realising the business case for renewables – that they were no longer a “romantic story.” He congratulated the wind industry for having rescued costs “to incredible levels”. But he warned us not to be complacent about this – the quicker costs come down, the more policymakers will expect us to operate independently and without support.

We now look forward to our two main 2017 events: Offshore Wind Energy 2017 in London (6-8 June); and our annual event in Amsterdam (28-30 November). We look forward to seeing you there.

– Giles Dickson
 

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