It’s the right time to realize a competitive advantage

Hans Timmers, Chairman of the Netherlands Wind Energy Association

“The Netherlands is well placed to benefit from the growing interest in wind energy worldwide, provided there is more cooperation and a clear roadmap for investments,” says Hans Timmers, Chairman of the Netherlands Wind Energy Association (NWEA). “It is an opportunity that is still too often seen as a problem.”

“The wind energy sector is currently characterized by economies of scale,” says Timmers, both in terms of energy yields from turbines and the number of systems installed. This has resulted in a considerable cost reduction, which will further increase in the coming years. “Production takes place on an ever larger scale,” the chairman explains. “This also gave room for new financing models. A few years ago we thought we would still need a lot of subsidies for the realization of large-scale parks, but the first projects that are free of government support have been drafted.”

Growing awareness

These are positive developments, however it should not distract from the fact that sustainable energy only makes up for about about 6.5 percent in our country, Timmers nuances, and that wind energy is not developing as quickly as it should to help reach the goals of the Paris Climate agreement. Yet there is a lot of interest in wind energy, from the electricity sector and industry, which will be the largest future energy suppliers and users. “There is a growing awareness of the impact that the transition from fossil to renewable energy really has.”

Even more reason for NWEA to act as a representative of the entire supply chain of the wind sector and to lobby the politics of The Hague, organize trade missions and bring companies in touch with each other in other ways, in order to be able to accelerate not only in The Netherlands, but also abroad. Timmers: “The playing field is becoming more and more international. Supply chains extend all over the world. In addition to North West Europe, there are also emerging wind energy markets in countries such as Taiwan, China and India.”

Emerging market

These are developments that could lead to profits for the Dutch maritime sector for instance, says Timmers. Therefore, the interest in wind has grown considerably in that sector, partly as a result of the drop in oil prices. “The long-term investments are being weighed more firmly. While wind is an emerging market. Where, for example, contracts are obtained for the installation of large appliances.”

In order to capitalize on the opportunities that exist, it is necessary to develop a roadmap for North West Europe , says Timmers. “If companies know when and at what pace new parks can be constructed, they will invest in smart solutions. You see that happening in Taiwan, for example, which has made clear that it will invest five billion dollars in wind in the coming years.”

Huge opportunity

In addition, the government must invest in knowledge and a good educational climate, Timmer believes. “Training technicians is badly needed. If we do that, the Netherlands can become a center for innovation and can attract business, which is good for prosperity. An opportunity we missed out on is turbine construction, which ended up in Germany and Denmark in particular.” He continues: “When there is stronger cooperation in Europe, there certainly is still a competitive advantage to be gained. The energy transition, which involves wind and other forms of sustainable energy, is often approached as a problem, while it is clear that it is actually a huge opportunity. And we we do not want let that slip through our fingers.”