The first quarter of 2012 has already seen a steady flow of western politicians pack a suitcase, board airplanes and head East. Last week, it was the turn of UK Prime Minister, David Cameron who worked his way through a gruelling schedule that has included stops in Japan, Malaysia and Burma.
It’s certainly no holiday, for him or for his country peers that have come before; who all inevitably arrive with a flotilla of dignitaries and business folk – each keen to demonstrate their products and services and do a deal.
And that of course, strikes at the very heart of these visits. With near stationary domestic economies, Europe and indeed North America, has a growing desire to re-establish past ties and encourage existing exports.
Only recently, there’s been something else on the agenda too. Namely, a wider desire to funnel future foreign investment from the east, back into the west. That’s why last week’s agreement, signed between Japan and the UK, was significant.
With a memorandum of understanding now in place to organise and subsidise finance for large infrastructure projects, green energy (and in particular, wind) can surely expect to benefit.
Of course, Japanese investment in European wind energy initiatives has already begun – most notably with the 49.9% stake in Gunfleet Sands and more recently, with the Marubeni’s acquisition of offshore wind servicing business, Seajacks. Nevertheless, it’s the sort of agreement that can only encourage future investments.
Indeed, this when combined with efforts already underway within the UK to establish the Green Investment Bank, suggests that pourning money into large-scale infrastructure not only creates jobs and kick starts new industries but can also register genuine, long term financial gain.
And so it’s set in this context that EWEA this morning publishes a report that assesses the impact that the wind energy market has had on the wider European economy. According to the organisation, from 2007 to 2010 wind energy’s contribution to Europe’s GDP rose 30%, while GDP fell – suggesting that the emerging energy market is outpacing regional economic growth.
If the statistics stand up to the scrutiny, the report paves the way for an ambitious and exciting next chapter. And the conference this week in Copenhagen, is just the start.
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