Over 400 delegates met in Manchester July 7-8 to discuss progress in the UK wind industry toward building and delivering the UK Government’s targets for renewable electricity. The event, the industry’s 26th annual conference, comes in the middle of the most successful year for the sector on record, with 118.35 MW of new generating capacity already commissioned and a further 200 MW confirmed to start generating before the end of the year.Manchester, England – July 8, 2004 [SolarAccess.com] This is record-breaking indeed, superseding in the first half of 2004 the total of 103.22 new MW added to the UK wind portfolio in 2003. Nor are the industry’s achievements confined to new plants. Consents have been won for 14 new projects totaling 260+ MW, representing a 85 percent success rate through planning. This year’s conference program, hosted by the British Wind Energy Association (BWEA), includes two new features, reflecting the larger debate currently surrounding the industry. TV and radio presenter Jonathan Dimbleby chaired two sessions on the opening day, the first, Any Political Questions, with Andrew Stunell MP, the Liberal Democrat Spokesman for Energy, Laurence Robertson MP, the Shadow Minister for Energy and Stephen Timms MP, Minister for Energy, on the parties energy strategies, and the second, the Wind Energy Debate, featuring representatives of developers Renewable Energy Systems, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, the Campaign to Protect Rural Wales, Scottish Wind Watch and Greenpeace. In addition, BWEA also reported progress on the key challenges facing the industry in delivering the necessary 16-fold expansion to meet the UK’s challenging targets on climate change, including the grid, finance and the Renewables Obligation, development and construction issues, both on and offshore. Technical workshops at the conference will address turbine technical and business developments, offshore health & safety, operation & maintenance and R&D and progress in the regions, the UK supply chain, aviation & MoD issues, and ‘Hearts & Minds.” The delegates will also be met by some 50 short listed entries to the Association’s ‘Catch the Wind’ competition which was launched by BWEA to raise awareness of the positive benefits of wind energy as a sustainable energy resource. The competition aimed to find the most surprising, thought-provoking or awe-inspiring image of wind as perceived through the eyes of the next generation. BWEA said the competition has been a huge success with almost 800 entries from children all over the UK. Six finalists have now been chosen from each age category (7-11 and 11-14 years) and their entries will be displayed at the Science Museum in London and Eureka! – the Museum for Children in Halifax from the end of July. A lucky winner from each category, to be announced later this month, will receive wind surfing lessons and runners-up will win professional stunt kites. “If the hopes illustrated in the children’s positive visions of wind power are to be achieved, we will need to re-double our efforts to ensure we build the projects so that we meet the dual challenge of climate change and increased energy security head on,” BWEA Chief Executive Marcus Rand said.