US Interior Secretary visits offshore wind farm during COP15

The Global Wind Energy Council was pleased to host US Secretary of the Interior Mr. Ken Salazar on a tour of the Middelgrunden offshore wind energy farm just outside of Copenhagen, along with representatives of the Danish Wind Industry Association, Vestas, DONG and Siemens. Secretary Salazar has been a strong proponent of exploiting the vast potential for offshore wind generation off the US East Coast, in pursuit of President Obama’s “25% by 2025” initiative.

Secretary Salazar has a particular interest in offshore wind technology, and he has been a strong advocate of the use of the public lands and offshore waters under his jurisdiction to build the US’ renewable energy generation capacity. Experts estimate that over 1,000 GW of wind energy could be built off the US East coast alone, and while there are no offshore wind farms currently operating in the US, a number of projects are in the pipeline.

“We are very excited about Secretary Salazar’s support for the development of offshore wind and are happy to share the European experience,” said Steve Sawyer, Secretary General of the Global Wind Energy Council.

By the end of 2009, total installed offshore capacity in Europe will be approximately 2,000 MW, just over 1% of the expected total year end global installed capacity of 150,000 MW. However, the share of offshore wind generation is expected to grow substantially in the coming years, particularly in Europe, where up to 55,000 MW are anticipated to be installed by 2020.

“Denmark has pioneered the growth of offshore wind and we are happy to have the Secretary visit Middelgrunden and see for himself what has been achieved”, continued Sawyer. “We were pleased to have the opportunity for in-depth conversation with him about the benefits and the challenges of this new technology. We look forward to working with him and his staff to help the industry develop in the United States.”

Wind industry gears up for high level participation in Copenhagen climate talks

As international climate negotiations kick off in the Danish capital today, the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) has called on governments to agree a legally binding framework for emissions reductions out to 2020. More than 350 wind industry participants have confirmed their participation, including the CEOs of some of the world’s leading wind turbine manufacturers, wind farm operators and developers.

“Wind power will play a key role in combating climate change, but we need a clear framework and a price on carbon for the sector to reach its full potential,” said Steve Sawyer, GWEC Secretary General. “All analyses show that the largest contribution to solving the climate issue must come from the private sector, and we stand ready to contribute, but we need a clear, robust and legally binding international framework to do so.”

Industry scenarios demonstrate that wind energy can save as much as 10 bn tons of CO2 by 2020. However, investor confidence is essential to reaching this goal, and stable long-term policies based on stringent and binding international targets are necessary to create a favourable investment climate for wind energy and other renewables.

“Our activities at COP15 mark the culmination of the wind industry’s 2009 ‘Wind Power Works’ campaign, which aims at increasing the industry’s visibility during the climate negotiations and media coverage around climate change,” said Angelika Pullen, GWEC Communications Director. “With the strong presence at the Copenhagen summit, we are adding weight to the wind industry’s calls for a robust climate agreement, and improved carbon markets. We hope that the sector’s voice will be heard strongly and clearly.”

A great variety of activities will emphasise the benefits of wind power technology at the COP15 and highlight the strong presence of the industry.

These include boat tours to the Middelgrunden offshore wind farm off Copenhagen harbour, a wind turbine and a wind turbine blade which are exhibited at the conference centre, as well as series of press conferences, side events and social gatherings.