European Offshore Wind 2009 – 14?16 September Stockholm, Sweden

Much has changed in the two years since the last offshore conference was held in Berlin: European wind power got a huge boost earlier this year when the Renewable Energy Directive with its target of 20% renewable energy was adopted; the world’s economy spiralled down into the nastiest recession since the Great Depression of the 1930s, and concern over global warming caused by burning fossil fuels became permanently etched onto the media horizon.

Yet throughout this whirlwind of change it became crystal clear that the vast promise of offshore wind, which represents Europe’s largest domestic energy resource, must be increasingly harnessed and complemented with a new trans-national power grid.

Just as onshore wind power began to do so successfully two decades ago, offshore wind is quickly making the transition from a concept to a mature power sector in its own right.

The more than 3,000 participants, 260 exhibitors, 300 presentations, and 23 sessions on display in Stockholm over the next three days all attest to that indisputable fact. In effect, the conference will allow attendees to learn as much as they can about the fastevolving offshore sector.

As Maud Olofsson, Swedish Minister for Enterprise and Energy and confirmed keynote speaker at the event said, “European Offshore Wind 2009 is an important initiative in the European Community and it is a pleasure for Sweden to support this event arranged during the Swedish Presidency of the European Union.”

Among the many aspects of wind energy that will be highlighted at the conference is a report by the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) called Oceans of Opportunity which indicates enormous investor interest in developing offshore wind power.

There will also be a declaration signed by businesses pledging to deliver what is needed to achieve Europe’s offshore wind power potential and demanding that national governments and the European Union take the necessary political decisions to allow offshore to reach its amazing potential. In addition, EWEA will be unveiling a plan for the offshore grids that Europe needs to develop both to harness the potential of offshore wind and achieve a truly single European electricity market.

Simply put, the conference promises oceans of opportunity for the offshore sector, which is set to experience an immense expansion in the next few years. Sessions at the conference will address the latest science, technology, research, engineering, policy, business and environmental issues that deal with taking advantage of offshore wind and allowing Europe to remain the global leader in the sector.

People attending this year’s event, organised by EWEA with the support of the Swedish Energy Agency and the Swedish Wind Energy Association, understand that offshore wind offers an indigenous, clean energy supply for Europe that comes at a knowable price, creates jobs and strengthens the economy.

They also understand that in order for offshore wind to reach its tremendous potential and begin to provide a multitude of welcome benefits for Europe, several hurdles still have to be overcome. These obstacles include the construction of a dedicated offshore power grid, a streamlining of the supply chain, and a fair, efficient and transparent administrative process.

Much is at stake as this necessary metamorphosis takes place, but, as the highly successful onshore wind sector has continually proven, change is good, change is necessary and change is the future. And, as this week’s conference will reveal, offshore wind is about to become a part of everyone’s future.