LONDON Feb 27 Endless debate over climate
change and ways of dealing with it means Europe will miss its
carbon cutting without a radical change in approach, the chief
executive of the world's largest wind turbine manufacturer said
The European Commission's plan to get a fifth of all energy
from renewable sources by 2020 is welcome, Vestas Wind Systems
CEO Ditlev Engel said in an interview. But the goal will be
missed if politicians continue to argue over how to cut
emissions of the main gas causing the earth to heat up.
"If we really think that global warming is serious...If we
really think its necessary that we change our energy mix, then
if we keep doing it in the way that we have done in the past
with the fossil fuel industry then we will go nowhere," he said.
"This is not because the fault of the technology. This is
because we were too slow to act."
Planning problems and public opposition to wind farms in
Britain in particular have severely limited the expansion of
renewable energy, while years of debate about how to make
cheaper but dirtier fuels like coal less attractive to
generators have limited investment in clean technologies.
But Engels believes the energy sector will need to emulate
the rapid development of the information technology companies to
get the job done quickly enough.
"If this is going to happen from a political, industrial and
from a people perception perspective, we need to understand that
the speed with which we need to execute it has to be the mind
sets of the Googles and the Microsofts... How much have we moved
in the IT era in such a short time?"he said.
"Are we looking at this as a threat to our lifestyle because
we have to give up fossil fuels? Or do we see this as an
opportunity for new types of energies and at the same time
create new jobs, companies and competencies while moving to a
new level of energy...If we can dream it we can do it."
Engels, whose Danish company reported a 120 percent rise in
2007 operating profit on Wednesday, said the EC target annouced
earlier this year was a "huge task" but that it could end up
much less ambitious before it is made law.
"We are delighted with the proposal but it's not verified
yet. What I fear is that from now until the end of the year all
27 member states will try to renegotiate what they need to do,"
Many environmentalists argue that allowing investment in new
nuclear power plants, which also emit almost no carbon, could
threaten the rapid development of renewable power by competing
But Engels said EC targets for renewables should help ensure
investment in clean technologies regardless of how many nuclear
plants are built in the next decade.
"I don't think this is an either or, because we need all
sorts of energy," he said.
(Reporting by Daniel Fineren, editing by William Hardy)