Wind energy: Believing in the power of the wind

A group of about 500 wind energy enthusiasts assemble themselves to form a giant human wind turbine near the town hall of Poitiers, France, just as a flash mob bursts into dance and a bike rally trails through the city of Murmansk, Russia.

This is just a snippet of what took place on 15 June at two of the 230 Global Wind Day (GWD) event locations. The events, aimed to provide people with information about wind energy and celebrate its power, were vast in number and creativity.

Wind farm visits occurred on almost every continent. Thirteen took place in the Czech Republic alone. The visitors ranged from young children to the elderly. Children flew kites in the United States and entered into a painting contest in Greece. And a festival with face painting and a bouncing castle occurred in Ireland.

Educational workshops for children were held in India and Spain, among others. At the end of the day in Spain, children shared in a video what they had learned. One young girl said she liked wind energy, “because it’s endless and because it can make electricity without running out of wind.”

To emphasise the educational aspect of Global Wind Day even further, more than 100 business and engineering students took a boat tour to an offshore wind farm in Denmark and a couple of groups of students presented windmill structures that they themselves constructed in Serbia and in the UK.

Conferences and forums on wind energy were held in every country already mentioned but also in Japan, Latvia, Netherlands, New Zealand, South Africa, South Korea, Israel and Uruguay.

This year, for the first time, a video campaign was launched on the GWD website and social media entitled ‘I love wind energy because!’ By late June it had been viewed about 6,000 times, making it the most popular EWEA video to date.

On GWD more than 300 people tweeted about the event, including both the International Director General for WWF, Jim Leape, and the Executive Director for Greenpeace, Dr. Kumi Naidoo.

The UN also provided timely support for GWD 2012. Kandeh K. Yumkella, the Director-General of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), and the leader of the Secretary General’s initiative said, “The ‘Global Wind Day’ on 15 June, does play a central role in contributing to the UNSG’s Sustainable Energy For All initiative through galvanising the much needed support for the wind energy industry from political leaders around the globe.”

Another new development to GWD this year was the recruitment of ‘GWD Ambassadors’ to spread the word on wind energy. Eighteen VIPs and other personalities committed to renewables, especially wind energy, signed up to become Ambassadors for GWD.

Adnan Amin, Secretary General IRENA, the International Renewable Energy Agency was one of the Ambassadors. Other GWD ambassadors included; Noa, the Israeli singer; Neal Petersen, solo around the world racing yachtsman; Jeremy Wates, Secretary General, European Environmental Bureau; Li Junfeng, Secretary General of the Chinese Renewable Energy Industry Association; and more.

Of course, spreading the word about wind energy can be done in many ways and is perhaps exemplified more creatively in the new, ‘Wind in Mind’ photo competition. More than 2,300 photographs from people in more than 40 countries were submitted. All the winning pictures were displayed outdoors in the EU area of Brussels 15-29 June in cooperation with ENEL Green Power.

Fittingly, people spent much of their time outdoors on 15 June. There was an outdoor exhibition on wind energy in Bulgaria. Bicycle tours took place in India, Austria and Russia, and a climate run was held in Germany. For every round ran, people donated 50 cents to an ecological project in schools in Bremerhaven and another 50 cents to a partner school in Africa.

City festivals with music, other entertainment, food and children’s activities were held in Croatia, Estonia, Germany and Spain. Estonia celebrated the 10th anniversary of its first wind farm in Virtsu. Singers, dancers and Estonian celebrities were in attendance.

Given the huge flow of creativity present at this year’s Global Wind Day, we at EWEA are already beginning to plan and look forward to GWD 2013!

By Megan Swieca,