The cradle of wind energy22 December 2022
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
Date: 25–27 April 2023
With the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic still ongoing, alongside the Russian invasion of Ukraine, spiralling costs, worries about energy security and the ever-increasing drive for new energy sources, the need to come together as an industry has never been higher.
As fossil fuel markets show themselves to be volatile and unreliable, it falls on the European wind sector to deliver clean, homegrown, dependable and affordable energy across the continent. Wind energy must take the lead, driving Europe’s response to the current energy crisis and safeguarding European livelihoods.
With this solution-targeted approach in mind, the WindEurope 2023 annual event aims to reinforce the wind industry’s ability to deliver on these goals. For over 40 years, the association has connected all the different players in the wind sector, working towards creating a positive framework for the development of wind energy throughout Europe.
Based in Brussels, Belgium, WindEurope has always placed a great deal of importance on its events, with every euro of profit going back into the association. Originally, the events would rotate from one country to another, but as attendance grew, there were not many venues in Europe that could host the conference and exhibition. Since 2019, the event has been rotating between Bilbao and Copenhagen, the latter of which will play host to the WindEurope 2023 event.
“We are lucky to not only have a great venue, great local support and a big local industry, but also the right market that has been of interest to our participants,” says Malgosia Bartosik, deputy CEO of WindEurope, with regard to 2023’s host city. Beyond next year’s event, WindEurope has been working with the municipality of Copenhagen to introduce wind energy into local schools’ curriculum, while also working alongside associations like Offshore Wind for Kids, aimed at educating the next generation about the benefits of wind power.
“Denmark is really the cradle of wind energy,” Bartosik adds, noting the nation’s long history with wind power, from the work of the inventor Poul la Cour around 1900 to the pioneering work carried out in the development of commercial wind power in the 1970s.
At this year’s conference, WindEurope will be looking at how to deliver a rapid buildout of wind and doubling down on the major obstacles. The organisation recognises that the objectives set out in REPowerEU – the EU’s energy response to the current crisis – aren’t necessarily being deployed on the ground. Europe’s stated desire to have 510GW of wind energy in place by 2030 – almost trebling the current capacity of 190GW within the next eight years – needs to be tackled head on.
The more than 10,000 expected attendees can look forward to more than 50 sessions across three days, with over 250 speakers from Europe and beyond tackling the biggest issues in wind today – from policy to industry, education to finance, and from local authorities right up to European and international bodies. “It is the first time that we are six months ahead of the event, and the exhibition is completely sold out,” says Bartosik. “We have a waiting list, we are doing rearrangements with the exhibition to be able to have more stands – so you can see the huge interest in the sector.”
Some of the key focuses of the 2023 event will include: slow and cumbersome permitting and insufficient market scale; how to ramp up the supply chain, particularly in terms of offshore wind over the next five years; engaging with other societal interests, particularly nature protection NGOs; how to accelerate grid development; and engaging the demand side.
Beyond that, industry challenges like increased costs for transportation and production, the increased price of steel, supply chain and logistical issues, recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, the demand for installation vessels and infrastructure cables, and the ongoing skills gap will all be topics up for discussion at the event.
Speaking on the various challenges facing the European wind sector ahead of the event, Bartosik said: “If I were to summarise in just one line, it’s how we are going to deliver on these very ambitious targets, and help Europe to decarbonise with the wind industry.” In that case, this is an event not to be missed.