Dec 16, 2009, 03.20 PM IST | Source: Reuters

What do wind power chiefs want in Copenhagen?

A UN climate summit this week in Copenhagen needs to agree a deal that offers clarity for the prospects of wind energy if it is to mobilise investment in the industry, the heads of four leading wind energy companies said.

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A UN climate summit this week in Copenhagen needs to agree a deal that offers clarity for the prospects of wind energy if it is to mobilise investment in the industry, the heads of four leading wind energy companies said.

Binding emissions targets and putting a price on carbon dioxide are issues a new global climate agreement need to address, the four wind power chiefs said on the sidelines of the talks, adding that granting of permits, grid issues and access to cheap capital remain obstacles for the industry.

WHAT NEEDS TO HAPPEN IN COPENHAGEN TO MOBILISE INVESTMENT IN WIND ENERGY?
* Tulsi Tanti - Founder, Chairman and Managing Director, Suzlon Energy
"We need very clear, long-term visibility from Copenhagen ... Without a deal, the wind industry could supply 20 percent of global energy by 2030.

With a deal, that could grow to 30 percent, and that would cut global emissions by 10 percent. In having long-term visibility, we can develop the required resources like capital expenditures, human resources and geographic distributions."

* Ditlev Engel, President and CEO, Vestas Wind Systems
"We need a price on CO2 and we need it now ... Renewable energy needs exactly the type of long-term visibility and planning that you had in the oil and gas industry, in that once you understand the possibilities, you make sure the regulatory framework is there ... For the political decision that needs to be taken here, it's important that there is a unity across renewable industries."

* Ian Mays, CEO, Renewable Energy Systems
"We need investment, and that investment needs stability. Mechanisms supported by a significant and binding emissions targets agreed here will provide that. They would have to be met with renewables playing a substantial part of the solution."

"We can, by 2020, reduce carbon emissions by around 10 billion tonnes if we have a challenging but achievable programme for renewable energy. That will need a very strong message from Copenhagen, a trigger for policy action at the national government level."

WHAT ARE THE MAJOR OBSTACLES FACING WIND ENERGY DEVELOPMENT?
* Ditlev Engel, Vestas
"After the financial crisis, access to capital is more challenging and more expensive, so the need for visibility is higher. The EU's (20 percent emissions cut by) 2020 targets are encouraging because this kind of visibility drives investment."

* Ian Mays, Renewable Energy Systems
"We're changing from centralised forms of generation to dispersed forms, and that means the infrastructure needs to change. We need huge investments in transmission all around the world for at least a partial renewable system ... We need to get a grid in place and that needs to be done sooner rather than later. Strategic planning and leadership is needed; we can't just leave it to the market."

"Permitting is also an issue, particularly in Europe. There's always a minority of people concerned with how wind farms change the landscape, and it's been an issue corrupting the UK. As a result, our average time between starting development of a project to generation is around 6 years. This is too long and we need to find a way of accelerating this."

* Jan Blittersdorf, President and CEO, NRG Systems
"In the US, competition for skilled labour used to be the biggest barrier, but this year it's transmission and infrastructure issues are a problem for the industry."

"The US wind industry alone has also spent about USD125 million so far on permitting studies to do the projects we've installed to date. If you want to scale that up, something's got to be done to get ahead of that curve."

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