2010 another strong year for wind power

Christian Kjaer, CEO of EWEA, highlighted the fact that over the next few days around 220 Global Wind Day events will take place in 26 countries to celebrate and inform the public about the benefits of wind power.

At the conference EWEA also released its estimate for new wind power installations in 2010. Despite the ongoing economic crisis, the EU is set to have the same amount of new capacity this year as it did last year – around 10 GW.

“This is another strong year for wind farm installations,” Kjaer said.

More striking is the fact that this year’s installations are based on orders that were placed during the financial crisis. New wind turbines installations in 2009 were based on orders placed before the financial crisis.

Ingmar Wilhelm, Executive Vice President of ENEL – the sponsor of the blade exhibition – said that the crisis has helped “drive the wind energy industry to become more organised and efficient.” Wind power “really impacts the energy scenarios of today,” since it is now a mature energy source, he added.

Wind power has a “strong development path ahead of it. It will only improve its cost effectiveness and competitiveness,” Wilhelm said.

More good news for wind power: two countries have installed their first wind farms this year – Slovenia and Cyprus – making Malta the only EU country without wind power.

As for whether or not wind power will again top the table of new installed energy capacity (last year 39% of all new capacity was wind power, ahead of gas, coal and nuclear), Kjaer said it was “too early to tell.”

Turbine parachute jump in Austria

With events taking place all over the country to celebrate wind power, Austria has embraced Global Wind Day. At one of the country’s main events, a crane measuring the same height as an average onshore wind turbine, lifted people up high to get a bird’s eye view of a wind farm.

Another spectacle took place in Lower Austria when a professional skydiver leapt from the top of a turbine, opened his parachute and sailed down to the watching crowd below.

Martin Fliegenschnee-Jaksch, from the Austrian Wind Energy Association, said the events that took place last weekend were a “huge success” attracting hundreds of people despite the scorching heat. More events are taking place this weekend in Upper Austria and Burgenland, he said, including a bike tour through a wind park and a wind power-themed cabaret.

The cars of the future – electric vehicles – were available for the public to try out at various locations across Austria in further celebration of Global Wind Day, and for children, events ranged from music to face painting.

At the main event in St Pöllen, there was a prize draw and the lucky winner won a trip in a hot air balloon over the Austrian countryside.

This week the Austrian Minister of Economics, Martin Bartenstein, will inaugurate a new turbine at an existing wind farm. Fliegenschnee-Jaksch explained that this is significant since it is the first new turbine in Austria to be constructed for a few years.

Wind turbine on display in central London

London celebrated wind power in style this week with a 13.5m turbine right in the middle of Leicester Square, central London. Chris Huhne, UK Sectretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, visited the fully functioning turbine and said that wind energy is “at the heart of” the UK’s plans for renewable energy.

Adam Bell from EmbraceMyPlanet, a campaign to support renewable energy, said that the turbine will attract the eyes of the 200,000 people passing through Leicester Square on a daily basis. “Visitors will also be able to join the Embrace campaign, and support further take up of renewables.”

Wind farms across the country are open to the public this week, an occasion Huhne labelled as a chance to “raise awareness of the opportunities there are for energy security, jobs and business from the industry.”

The UK is approaching 5 GW of installed wind capacity; enough to power 3 million homes. “The UK is currently leading the world in offshore wind, and with over 40 GW of projects at various stages of development, wind energy is changing the way we are powering our households and businesses,” Bell said.

By Zoë Casey, blog.ewea.org/