Hosted by the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) from 29th November to 1st December 2011, the largest offshore wind energy event broke records when over 8,200 participants and 480 exhibitors arrived to celebrate 8000m² of exhibition space at the Amsterdam RAI.
The EWEA is the largest and most powerful wind energy network, with over 700 members from almost 60 countries. Actively promoting the utilisation of wind power in Europe and worldwide, the organisation boasts the leading share of the world wind power market and works closely with research institutes, national wind and renewables associations, developers and electricity providers.
Since the event began three years ago, Offshore Energy has enjoyed an explosive growth from 70 exhibitors in 2008 to 231 exhibitors in 2010. The event has previously been held at the Old Navy Yard Willemsoord in Den Helder, however the Amsterdam RAI is more easily accessible for international exhibitors and visitors.
The EWEA Offshore Energy event attracts an international audience of engineers, technical specialists, industry leaders and subcontractors. The companies debate the issues of the moment and create common agendas for the future of wind energy industries.
The EWEA Offshore Energy 2011 was extended to two days in order to allow visitors more opportunities to visit the entire exhibition. This meant that the visitors and exhibitors had the opportunity to participate in one of more parts of the conference, which was run parallel to the exhibition.
Jorg Schroder, Head of Project Financing for PNE Wind, said: “For us, it was good to meet so many people in one place. It’s a well organised conference and exhibition. I can’t see how you could do it better.”
The Offshore Energy conference focuses on the offshore, oil, gas and wind sector and the EWEA are committed to including representatives from the entire offshore value chain, from outside the Dutch borders and beyond Europe.
During the conference, spectators heard how the 141 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind energy capacity that is planned, built or under construction in Europe is enough to power 130 million average EU households and provide 13.1% of Europe’s total electricity production.
In 2009, EWEA increased its 2020 target to 230GW wind power capacity, including 40 GW offshore wind. By 2030, it is expected that 400 GW of wind power will be installed in Europe, 150 GW of which will be located offshore, producing 562 TWh of electricity and representing an annual investment of €17.1 billion.
In a video presentation, the EU’s Energy Commissioner, Günther Oettinger, said: “Offshore wind represents a powerful domestic answer to Europe’s energy supply and climate challenge.”
The increased electricity is expected to create up to 400,000 jobs in the EU offshore wind energy sector by 2030.
Wind energy also has significant environmental benefits. According to EWEA calculations, wind energy decreased CO2 production by 126 Mt in 2010. By 2020, it is expected that the CO2 production will be decreased by 342 Mt and by 2030 by 646 Mt.
An important outcome of the conference was the unanimous agreement that financing for offshore wind farm projects is still a possibility, despite the ongoing debt crisis.
Sean Klimczak, Managing Director of the Blackstone Private Equity Group, said that he was “relatively optimistic about the opportunities” that are available for raising money for European offshore wind farms. Blackstone raised €1.2 billion in financing for the 288 MW Meerwind project off Germany’s coast.
His view was echoed by Jerome Guillet of Green Giraffe Energy, who said that there is enough financing money available for the offshore wind sector. She added: “The market is growing and the money is there for it to continue to grow.”
With the event proving a resounding success, Malgosia Bartosik, EWEA’s Membership and Events Director, said: “It’s amazing to go around the exhibition and see people doing deals and making business and seeing all the exhibition stands packed.
The EWEA 2012 Annual Event will be held from Monday 16th to Thursday 19th April 2012 in the Bella Centre in Copenhagen, Denmark. There will be over 12,000m² of exhibition space and an expected 450 exhibiting companies and 10,000 professional visitors.