With three months to go until Vienna becomes a hive of wind energy activity at the EWEA Annual Event, we caught up with Conference Chair Francesco Starace, CEO of Enel Green Power SpA, to find out what he thinks is hot in wind energy right now.
How would you describe the current wind power market in Europe and what do you think the short-term outlook is?
The context where the EU wind industry is currently operating is one of economic downturn. Yet, the strong links between economic activity, energy supply and demand and energy investments, make it more difficult to understand the condition and timing of recovery. It will likely take other three or four years for the EU economy to recover and for the gap between power supply and demand to close and until that time major growing opportunities will be unlikely in mature European Markets.
Despite the concerns on the short term outlook, positive signals are coming from promising markets in Eastern Europe. Meanwhile there is still room for EU member states to stimulate growth in renewables by making progress on the targets planned for 2020 in National Renewable Energy Action Plans through increasing coordination and a sound policy framework at European and national level.
With your role as EWEA 2013 Conference Chair, what two or three key discussion topics do you think people will be talking about the most in Vienna?
The debate surrounding how the European industry can keep growing in a context of economic downturn will be at the centre of the discussion in Vienna. Sharing experiences and practices concerning technology innovation and continuous efficiency gains will be an important part of the Conference. Other topics very likely to be high on the agenda: the need for an EU-coordinated effort to address investments to facilitate renewable energy growth (e.g. grid infrastructure investments, R&D) and a regulatory framework able to maintain investor confidence. The opportunity of wind power growth in emerging markets, in Europe and outside the continent, will be another object of major interest.
What do you expect to gain from EWEA 2013 in Vienna and what are you most looking forward to?
EWEA annual events are unique opportunities for the industries active along the wind supply chain. EWEA 2013 represents a Europe-wide arena for networking, where mature and emerging players in the wind market can do business together and learn about latest technology developments.
Through ad-hoc seminars, participants will be allowed to share ideas and experiences and translate them into real applications to deal with the key challenges the industry faces and also, getting together with EU policy makers, they will be able to understand more about renewable energy targets and shape the future of the industry. Given the challenges that lie ahead for the future of the wind industry, all these activities represent a fundamental drive to reveal the full potential of the wind industry of the future within and beyond Europe.
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