US: Firm, long-term renewable energy commitments are key to attracting investment and boosting economic growth

“At a time of economic turmoil and of concerns about energy security and climate change, wind power has a track record in solving these challenges. Experience shows that a firm, long-term national renewable energy policy is key to attracting investment and is good economic, trade, energy security and carbon avoidance policy.

The wind energy industry today commands an annual capital investment of over $47 billion in 2008, and supports more than 400,000 jobs globally. The Global Wind Energy Council estimates that by 2020, over 2 million people could be employed in this industry. With 260 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity produced by 120 gigawatts of installed capacity, wind energy avoided around 160 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) in 2008, and this figure is projected to reach 1.5 billion tons annually by 2020—equivalent to taking 28 million cars off the road.

However, for nations to fully reap this economic and environmental potential, it is crucial to introduce firm and long-term national renewable energy policies.

Experience in Europe and other parts of the world has shown that policy certainty is key in creating investor confidence. Industry decisions about where to invest and build up a manufacturing base are made on this basis. While wind environmental and economic benefits remain the main drivers for wind power’s entry into the mainstream, it is the presence – or absence – of policy certainty which shapes investment patterns and will define the strategic markets of the future.

Of the world’s large strategic markets—Europe, China, and the U.S. — the U.S. is the only one without a firm, long-term renewable energy commitment in place. Over 70 countries have deployed wind energy, created new permanent jobs and avoided carbon as a result of renewable energy requirements. Most of these countries have introduced renewable energy policies based on national renewable energy requirements, pricing, “must-take” or other mechanisms. For the U.S., strong renewable electricity standards are the policy of choice, and these standards can provide the firm commitment needed to draw both project development and manufacturing.

The wind energy industry — including global and local companies, manufacturers, wind project developers and the many other companies that participate in the wind power supply chain — is doing its part, creating good jobs and vast business opportunities while reducing emissions. The industry also stands ready to contribute on an even larger scale but, in order to do so, needs from governments the firm, long-term renewable energy commitments that will stimulate and attract further investment.”

AWEA is the national trade association of America’s wind industry, with more than 2,000 member companies, including global leaders in wind power and energy development, wind turbine manufacturing, component and service suppliers, and the world’s largest wind power trade show. AWEA is the voice of wind energy in the U.S., promoting renewable energy to power a cleaner, stronger America. Look up information on wind energy at the AWEA Web site. Find insight on industry issues at AWEA’s blog Into the Wind. Join AWEA on Facebook. Follow AWEA on Twitter.

GWEC is the credible and representative forum for the entire wind energy sector at the international level. With a combined membership of over 1,500 organizations involved in hardware manufacture, project development, power generation, finance and consultancy, as well as researchers, academics and associations, GWEC’s member associations represent the entire wind energy community in more than 70 countries.

Participants in today’s press conference included:

Arthouros Zervos, Chairman, Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC)
Steve Sawyer, Secretary General, GWEC
Christian Kjaer, CEO, European Wind Energy Association (EWEA)
Carlos Gasco, Head of Prospective Unit, Iberdrola Renewables
Peter Brun, Head of Government Affairs, Vestas
Denise Bode, CEO, American Wind Energy Association (AWEA)