“2011: The year when a lot happened”. That’s how the BBC news website recently summed up global events over the past twelve months. How apt.
It certainly was a busy one. And for the European wind energy market in particular, it summed up the state of play admirably.
With a focus on 2020 targets, major manufacturers, developers and investors worked hard to win new contracts, while a whole host of new market entrants poured into the sector to help solve policy, procurement and project management problems and capitalise on the boom.
The result? Twelve months on the industry continues to make considerable ground, despite the best intentions of the naysayers and the peddlers of gloom.
And that’s all just marvellous. However, it’s a fight that’s not getting any easier just yet and as ever, if the industry is to truly succeed, it needs all the support it can get.
Put bluntly, that support comes through sheer weight of numbers.
For too long the wind industry has played up the argument that when it comes to international energy, it’s still small fry. And yes, compared to our fossil fuel cousins, that may well still hold true.
However, do not underestimate the power of public opinion. And the sentiment on the street is already starting to shift.
Even in these austere times the consumer has a conscious. An ideology that has become increasingly clear through the consumer’s attitude towards the cost of energy.
For the industry, it’s easy to dismiss this subtle shift and to look beyond what is often seen as a fickle consumer. But take a second look.
In 2011, the crowd was at the very heart of some of the most memorable international events – riots, demonstrations and toppling of governments.
Perhaps then, when acting together with a common goal, people really do have power and hold sway?
And if they are a proven revolutionary force – might that not be of benefit to help secure the long-term future of wind?
With governments both within North America and within Europe having shown consistent inconsistency, might it not be time for the industry to try something new – and take the debate direct to the people?
2012. A year of people power. Now that’d give the BBC a headline and a half.
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