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Credit Crunch is Talk of the Day during EWEC 2009

Players in the wind energy business met in Marseille, France, from 16 till 19 March at the European Wind Energy Conference (EWEC). In total at EWEC 2009 there were over 7,500 participants, made up of 1,900 delegates and 5,600 exhibition visitors. The exhibition covered 10,000m2 and featured 390 companies, making it three times bigger than the exhibition at EWEC 2008 in Brussels.
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{access view=!registered}Only logged in users can view the full text of the article.{/access}{access view=registered}As I wandered around, the talk of the day was the credit crunch and the effect of the situation on the wind energy industry. The crisis is stalling the wind energy market due to the lack of financial resources. In the past couple of years the supply chain was an issue which negatively influenced the industry. In just a few months this issue has been solved (for now). Component suppliers and turbine manufactures have larger stocks than ever and the prices have decreased considerably. Developers now have easier and faster access to wind turbines but have difficulties in financing their projects.

Now that banks are more reluctant to lend the money for projects, the sector is attracting new sources of capital to compensate for the banks. A growing number of power companies with strong balance sheets are investing in wind energy and there is increasing interest from institutional investors, despite the financial crisis. The sector expects to be among the first to emerge from the economic turmoil. However, governments and the European Investment Bank must urgently establish loan guarantees to ease the banking liquidity squeeze and accelerate economic recovery.

But the situation could also have positive effects for the industry. Companies have more time to focus on their internal organisation to be ready when the economy picks up and the demand for turbines grows again. Also, innovations could accelerate more and faster since (component) manufacturers have more time and capacity to work on new developments and innovations. On the other hand, I wonder if the supply chain will become a problem again when demand grows rapidly once the crisis is over. Component suppliers are hesitant or unable to finance an increase in their production capacity nowadays, and when the economy picks up again there could be a lack of production capacity (maybe bigger than before), driving up the delivery time for turbines and the prices as well.

Governments all over the world are investing in renewable energies to stimulate the economy and it is anticipated that by the end of 2009 the lack of financial resources will be improved and will probably stimulate the growth of our industry in 2010 with steady growths for the year after. All things considered, I believe we are in a pretty safe industry and are able to cope with this temporary downturn.

Enjoy reading,

Floris Siteur
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