in the future energy mix and to compensate for current market-failures.
Philippe Dumas is the secretary general of the European Geothermal Energy Council (EGEC) in
Brussels. The EGEC fosters market development for geothermal energy and works to improve
business conditions in Europe. He was formerly a master in European Affairs, and first worked at
a European engineering company as representative in Brussels for EU affairs.
IN THE SHORT TERM, the biggest challenge facing the wind industry at the moment is the wave of policy uncertainty, which has
swept over Europe and the United States over the past couple
of years. While there are signs that things are settling down
in Europe with the establishment of the new German coalition
government, there are some key decisions to be made this year
and next that will determine the growth prospects for wind in
Europe both onshore and offshore in the near to medium term.
In the United States, the policy rollercoaster that saw record
installations in 2012 (as a result of the imminent expiration of
the production tax credit), and the dramatic drop in 2013 instal-
lations (because of the late reauthorization of the PTC), could
be ameliorated, ironically by the new found spirit of cooperation in advance of the
2014 mid-term elections following the disastrous budget fasco late last year.
In the longer term, however, the greatest challenge facing the industry is how
to focus the minds of policy makers, utilities and systems operators and the wind
power industry on the transformation of the electricity system: moving away from
a system reliant on a few large sources of supply for an infexible demand; and into
one with a wide variety of sources (some variable, some not) that supply an increasingly sophisticated and managed demand, and where electricity plays a larger role
in the overall energy picture, i.e., contributing signifcantly to transport as well as
heating/cooling. While there are many forward thinking policymakers and system
operators in some countries who are pushing the envelope in this area, there are
many more who are resistant to change.
As we move inexorably towards an electricity (and energy) system dominat-
ed by renewables, the question becomes less one of technology per se, but one
of system management and rewarding ‘good’ behavior on the part of consumers
large and small. à
Steve Sawyer joined the Global Wind Energy Council as its first secretary general in April 2007. The
Global Wind Energy Council represents the major wind energy associations (China, India, Japan, Brazil,
Mexico, Australia, Canada, USA, Europe, Germany, Spain, Denmark, Italy, Korea, South Africa and UK)
as well as the major companies involved in the global wind industry.
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