From the Editor

The region of Upper Austria has long acted as one of the ‘incubators’ for Europe’s pellets industry. During a recent visit there, to the European Pellets Conference in Wels, I learned that six manufacturers of pellets boilers and stoves had – during 2006 – together invested no less than €100 million in new manufacturing capacity, and in so doing, had created 500 new jobs. It’s important to remember that the renewables sector can be a remarkable generator of employment, a strong argument to join those of low or zero CO2 emissions, and providing security of energy supply.

While homeowners in the region are good customers, these companies sell throughout Austria and Germany – and beyond, and they are gearing up to meet the demands of a market that is growing at a record pace. (Possibly too fast for its own good, some may say, as the sector is just emerging from a period of high prices as supply has failed to keep up with demand.) In some parts of Europe, customers are opting to heat their homes and hot water with renewables – be it with pellets or woodchip, geothermal or solar. Assuming that Europe’s ministers do finally decide to adopt the European Commission’s energy package, proposing 20% of energy from renewables by 2020, then each Member State will need to create its own action plan of how this is to be achieved. With no specific, Europe-wide requirement in place for heating, and few role models to follow, it seems unlikely that the Member States will fully make use of the ‘sleeping giant’ of renewable heating and cooling. If that’s the case, then Europe really has missed a great opportunity. Time will tell.

In the meantime, the renewables sector continues to refine and expand its market offering, including the ways that these technologies can be incorporated within the building fabric. In this edition of REW, Dagmar Jaehnig and her colleagues present some of the cutting-edge options for building integration of solar thermal, while Alasdair Cameron reports on prospects for building-integrated solar PV, having recently attended European Photovoltaic Technology Platform meeting dedicated to this sector. Staying with PV in Europe, Edward Milford reports from EPIA’s PV financing meeting, while Iris Krampitz brings us up to date on progress in organic solar cells.

This issue also takes a timely look at offshore wind power, while Eize de Vries looks inside DeWind’s new turbine for the US market. Indeed, DeWind is now under US ownership, part of a ‘churn’ of mergers and acquisitions in the US, which Elisa Wood reports on for us.

Finally, we are just entering the spring/summer conference season, and the REW team looks forward to meeting you at one or more of this year’s events. And we hope you will sign up to receive our monthly e-update – just visit www.renewable-energy-world.com to sign up for it or catch up with any articles you missed.

Jackie Jones
Editor, Renewable Energy World

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