In 7 days Europe’s flagship wind energy event will take place in Bilbao: the WindEurope 2019 Conference & Exhibition. More than 8,000 delegates will gather in the Spanish city from 2-4 April to network, do business, and discuss the theme of this year’s event: ‘Delivering a clean economy for all Europeans.’
“There couldn’t be a better time to be in Spain,” WindEurope CEO Giles Dickson says – and the wind industry seems to agree: the exhibition space has completely sold out and several networking events are already at full capacity. With the wind industry already forecasted to be Europe’s leading source of power generation by 2027, all eyes will be on Bilbao next week.
Describing the event, Dickson says “This event is all about people. Firstly, it’s about the people who work in our industry: are there enough of them, are the right skills out there, how can we best support what we hope will be a growing workforce? Secondly, it’s about the broader public: the relationship between citizens of Europe and wind energy. We’ll be looking at how to maintain people’s continued support for the expansion of wind and showing how wind benefits local communities.”
With the energy transition ramping up across Europe, coal regions and regions dependent on energy-intensive industries must be central to any renewables strategy. Accordingly, the event will examine how wind can help deliver a ‘just’ energy transition for those regions of Europe.
This is where the location becomes key. The Spanish wind market is booming – 4 GW of new wind capacity will come on line in Spain this year, creating 13,000 new jobs. But just as importantly, Bilbao and the Basque Country exemplify how the wind industry can support economic transition in heavy industrial areas. Thanks to forward-thinking policy decisions, Dickson says, the Basque Country has transformed its economy and now become a significant industrial cluster for wind energy, producing and exporting cutting-edge equipment and technology: “They really are reaping the benefits of wind: this region now has one of the highest concentrations of the wind energy supply chain anywhere in the world. It goes to show how, even regions without a lot of wind resource can still benefit enormously from the wind industry. Spain, the Basque Country and Bilbao are setting an example that all European countries should follow.”
Who will be speaking in Bilbao?
Other countries will be well represented in Bilbao – both commercially and politically. In addition to 300 exhibitors from 50 countries, the conference programme includes the Spanish and Portuguese Energy Ministers and Ministers from Norway and Croatia. Michal Kurtyka, the Polish Minister who chaired the recent UN climate talks in Katowice will be there, joining a host of senior officials from the European Commission and European Investment Bank, as well as National Regulators and Transmission System Operators.
These are just a few of the 155 speakers behind a conference programme set to cover all the key live technology developments, market trends, and the latest on finance and government policy. The programme will also look at grids and system integration, repowering and lifetime extension, recycling of blade waste, PPAs, trade issues and Brexit.
What about networking and side events?
As always there will be a busy programme of side events in parallel to the conference and exhibition. Notably, on 2 April GWEC will be hosting a Women in Wind launch event, while on 4 April there will be a Skills Workshop dedicated to plugging the skills gap in the wind industry. A new addition to the WindEurope event this year, the ‘Thought Leaders Forum’ from MHI Vestas, will let industry leaders, start-ups and policymakers take part in a series of short talks, discussions, interviews and panels in the exhibition hall