The WindEurope annual event begins today in Bilbao. His Majesty the King of Spain will open it with the President of the Basque Government, Ministers from around Europe and top officials from the EU Commission. Over 8,000 people are taking part. The focus is energy security. Europe wants more wind energy more quickly than before to help it wean itself off Russian gas. How we deliver that is the focus of the Bilbao event.
WindEurope 2022 is the annual conference and exhibition of the European wind energy industry. Over 8,000 people will be taking part with 330 companies from across the wind value chain exhibiting. Ministers and policymakers from around Europe will speak in the conference along with industry leaders, investors, technology experts and NGOs.
Europe needs to increase its energy security
The event comes at a decisive time for European energy. The Russian invasion of Ukraine has upended the European energy system. Europe has decided to end Russian energy imports by 2030 at the latest and to accelerate the deployment of renewables alongside that to improve its energy security. The EU’s “REPowerEU” agenda wants wind energy to grow from 190 GW today to 480 GW by 2030.
REPowerEU also highlights the crucial importance of simplifying the processes for getting permits for renewables projects. The complexity of permitting rules and procedures is the main bottleneck today to the expansion of wind energy. REPowerEU says renewables permitting is a matter of “overriding public interest”. It also asks national Governments to identify “go to” areas for new renewables.
These measures are essential. Today Europe is only building half the new wind farms it needs to build to reach its 40% renewables target by 2030, let alone the higher wind volumes now envisaged in REPowerEU. This in turn is undermining the competitiveness of Europe’s wind energy industry, which is struggling also with high commodity prices and supply chain bottlenecks.
At the same time Europe needs to accelerate the electrification of its energy system. Only 25% of the energy we consume in Europe today is electricity. Most of the rest of fossil fuels. The EU wants 75% electricity in our energy by 2050 – and to accelerate now the shift to electric vehicles, heat pumps and the electrification of industrial processes.
WindEurope 2022 will cover all these issues. Plus the need to expand grid connections, improve market design and to attract and train the workforce the wind industry needs. And the opportunities: how wind can help electrify the energy system, benefit communities, regenerate deprived areas and preserve nature.
The event will also showcase the latest wind energy technology developments, including what we’re doing on recycling – and feature start-ups. There’ll also be a workshop on renewables in Ukraine and various fund-raising activities for the victims of the war in Ukraine.
Ministers from Spain, Germany, the UK, Ireland, Portugal, Romania and Lithuania are taking part. Together with the Director-General for Energy in the European Commission and other leading EU officials.
Giles Dickson, WindEurope CEO, says: “WindEurope 2022 in Bilbao comes at a decisive moment for Europe. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has upended the energy system. Europe is pursuing a new energy policy: less dependence on imported fossil fuels; and an accelerated transition to renewables. In Bilbao we will focus on how to deliver this: tackling the barriers that need to be overcome e.g. around permitting, but also highlighting the opportunities, notably for jobs and communities.”
Ignacio Galán, Chairman and CEO of Iberdrola, says: “For more than twenty years, Iberdrola has pioneered the deployment of wind energy, maximising the opportunities for our industry and reconverting traditional sectors, as shipyards and aeronautics. Onshore and offshore wind will be key to reach climate goals as part of a more electrified energy system, together with smart grids and storage. Wind energy delivers clean and competitive energy, creates new industries and massive local jobs and strengthens value chains. We look forward to showcasing our future plans at WindEurope’s Annual Event in our home city of Bilbao.”
Jochen Eickholt, CEO of Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy, says: “The wind industry is now leading the charge against climate change across Europe. We are not only decarbonising energy supply but also helping to build a new sustainable economy. To deliver the change Europe needs, however, we need to speed up the transition and can only do so with decisive action that will break down the barriers to progress.”
Jonathan Cole, Incoming CEO of Corio, says: “The opportunity, and need, to deliver wind power at ever larger scale and volume has never been greater. More than ever, our industry must work together with policymakers, stakeholders, investors and communities in order to rise to this challenge and ensure the energy transition creates sustainable opportunities for all. That’s why we are proud to be launching Corio, a new force in offshore wind. Corio’s dedicated to harnessing the world’s greatest energy supply and we are looking forward to introducing you to this exciting new business at WindEurope’s Annual Event in Bilbao.”
Josu Jon Imaz, CEO of Repsol, says: “We are a global multi-energy company, we firmly believe in wind energy as a sustainable, efficient and profitable resource that will help build a better future. Our firm commitment to low-carbon electricity generation includes a significant investment in wind projects in different countries with which we can guarantee the energy supply needed and contribute to improving people’s quality of life.”
The WindEurope Annual Event in Bilbao is supported by Euskal Autonomia Erkidegoa Comunidad Autónoma del País Vasco, Asociación Empresarial Eólica (AEE) and the Basque Energy Cluster.