“We need a clear political target”

Thomas Becker, CEO of the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA), talks about the upcoming EWEA Offshore 2013 and the challenges facing the industry in the year ahead.

new energy: You have been in office as EWEA’s CEO since April. When you were first introduced as CEO you said ‘I want to turn the crisis facing the wind industry today into an opportunity’. With six months under your belt, where does the industry stand right now?

Thomas Becker: It would be very difficult and probably untrue to say that we have already passed the worst point of the crisis. I think, however, that there are small signs on the horizon that the industry is improving. It has definitely come to the attention of the political level, both in Germany and in other major countries in Europe, that the wind industry is a vibrant and strong industrial branch with work and export opportunities. And it is a branch which provides energy security and limits CO 2 emissions. I get the impression that there are some interesting developments in turbine orders, especially from emerging markets. Let’s say that we’re still in a deep crisis and are facing tough challenges, not least political instability. But we are now seeing some small positive signs, which are not all my achievement!

new energy: Across Europe, wind-energy projects – both onshore and offshore – are being put on hold due to financial uncertainty. Is this another reason why EWEA Offshore 2013 will take place in Frankfurt?

Thomas Becker: Frankfurt was chosen a long time ago. But it fits well in the sense that access to capital in the wind sector is becoming more and more difficult because of some political uncertainty. The higher the level of uncertainty, the higher the degree of caution among investors. Some of the larger insurance companies in the UK and Switzerland are pondering plans to insure against political uncertainty in Europe, which I find quite interesting. The lack of financing is not down to a lack of capital in the financial markets – it is a reluctance towards financing caused by political uncertainty.

This is an abridged version of the interview – the full text is available in new energy issue 05/2013

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