Certainty of long-term funding – or lack of it – and concerns over possible judicial reviews of wind turbine parc planning consents were among key agenda items at a recent meeting of w-industry chiefs in Scotland.
The conference was attended by all major European offshore wind players, including EDPR, DONG, Mainstream Renewable Power, Siemens, EWEA, Scottish Power Renewables, AREVA and SSE.
Jonathan Cole, Managing Director, Scottish Power Renewables, summed up current renewables industry concerns: “Working in this industry is a rollercoaster: one day optimism, the next day despair,“ he said.
“It feels like now as if we are an industry in retreat – that our hopes have been raised and very rapidly confounded. But we must remind ourselves that we are an industry which is growing and creating jobs.
“There are a lot of reasons for us all to be optimistic about this sector, but we need a much more stable political environment in which to operate.”
The optimism carried through to a discussion on the readiness of Scotland’s supply chain, where BVG Associates’ Alan Duncan hailed the UK as the focus of the world’s offshore renewables industry, but warned: “There are potentially a lot of jobs for us, but they are not going to be easy wins – we must look at what we can do to displace existing supply chains in Denmark and Germany.
“Be assured, though: the UK will continue to lead the world in offshore wind to 2030, and there is no other industry which gives us the chance to do that.”
Cost reduction in the w-industry was also a hot topic. Benj Sykes, Country Manager, DONG Energy’s wind power business, told how keeping costs down would mean a larger industry, and hinted that future certainty from government would be the single thing most likely to drive success.
He said: “If we get costs down quickly then the scale of deployment will increase, and if we do not then it will slow. “But to ensure we have a competitive and sustainable long term industry we need the next government to be ambitious and speedy about deploying the reminding funds in the levy control framework. We need to see what the runway looks like post-2020. Essentially, we need some sense of direction and scale.”
* Danish wind turbine maker Vestas yesterday announced its first dividend payment in 12 years – a sign that it has finally turned the corner after a tough few years during which it slashed jobs and costs as faltering economies and cutbacks in government subsidies hit demand for its turbines. Last year, Vestas’s order book bulged with 6,544 megawatts (MW) worth of new turbines – its highest for at least three years.