What is the current situation on the wind energy market? What is the status of green hydrogen? During a press conference for the leading international trade fair WindEnergy Hamburg and the new H2EXPO & CONFERENCE trade fair, experts discussed the impact of the Russian aggression in Ukraine on the energy sector, the effects of the Covid pandemic on the wind energy industry and the global acceleration of the hydrogen economy. Leading business and union representatives provided diverse insights into all areas of the industry, with plenty of facts and figures. So as to cover the huge impending need for renewable energies, they highlighted the significance of personal exchange and knowledge transfer on an equal footing between industry, research institutions and policy.
Climate change and the consequences of the Covid pandemic have for various reasons had a significant impact on regional and global business relationships and trade flows. And developments in global politics have made the rapidly increasing need for renewable energies clear. Bernd Aufderheide, chairman of the Hamburg Messe und Congress GmbH board, explains: “We feel the impact of the war all over the world: a looming food crisis, which is intensifying the influence of climate change. Interrupted supply chains, which have an impact on almost every business. Business relationships that have been severed because of the sanctions against Russia and a major energy crisis in Europe. Any country without its own gas and oil reserves is dependent on other countries. We need more renewables, not only to save our world from global warming, but also because we need energy security. In the coming years, we have many problems to discuss and to solve. One of the places for the industry to come together is WindEnergy Hamburg.”
WindEnergy Hamburg and the H2EXPO & CONFERENCE make a high-powered team
With the H2EXPO & CONFERENCE taking place in parallel with WindEnergy Hamburg, the city is making room for another future-oriented technology sector. The focal topic of “green hydrogen” expands and develops wind energy and links it via electrolysis processes to the world of hydrogen production, conversion and use. Green hydrogen as an energy source currently holds the key to successful industrial decarbonisation in industrial production and transport in particular.
The current status: focus on a resilient industry on the rise
The Covid pandemic and resulting supply bottlenecks and the war in Ukraine are influencing the rapid development of wind energy and acting as a catalyst in the industry. Nevertheless, Giles Dickson, CEO of WindEurope, is pragmatic in his summary: “Wind energy has proven itself to be robust during the pandemic. Our turbines kept on turning and producing electricity, our industry continued to install new capacity, and investor trust in the industry remained high.”
Ben Backwell, CEO of the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC), analysed the impact of the Ukraine war on the urgency of the energy transition, and said: “The situation in Ukraine has laid bare the world’s dependence on fossil fuels.” He went on: “Fossil fuels are being used as a weapon and the wind industry can contribute to ending this threat. The entire sector can play a decisive role in creating an independent, secure energy system that meets net-zero commitments and at the same time ends dangerous exposure regarding the volatility of fossil fuels.” The industry can make the required infrastructure available, make long-term investments and contribute to the achievement of a modern, secure energy system.
Green hydrogen plays a crucial role in the climate-neutral energy mix of the future, and Jorgo Chatzimarkakis, CEO of Hydrogen Europe, speaks out about independence from fossil energies against the backdrop of the Ukraine conflict: “In order to reduce dependence on Russian gas and replace fossil fuels with renewable energy sources, there is no way around green hydrogen. We are at a historic turning point that gives us the opportunity to set a course for a net-zero-carbon future. Here, HydroGenewables are one of the most significant enablers – to make our energy system both more robust and fit for the future.”
Creating synergies: partnerships and networks for the energy transition
Cross-border energy security ensured by locally available, affordable, regenerative energy requires new solutions for the provision of energy. And there are promising approaches both in wind energy and the hydrogen sector. Aivars Starikovs, Chairman of the Latvian hydrogen association, provides a glimpse of the future capabilities of the Baltic nations: “All three Baltic states are set to become key suppliers of green hydrogen for EU industry. Together, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania can supply 831 TWh of renewable electricity for the production of green hydrogen – this corresponds to at least 16 million tonnes per year.” These capacities can only be achieved through close cooperation at a political and industrial level. Ben Backwell also highlights the political responsibility of nations when it comes to replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy sources, and says: “The energy transition is a global challenge and growth has to take place globally. Here, Europe’s REPower-EU plans are a strong start, but they have to be supported by policies that make it possible for industrial companies to work together in various regions and sectors. This is the only way to ensure that a global transition to sustainable, renewable energies becomes a reality. We have seen initiatives in other countries that have brought about real change: Vietnam, Japan, Brazil and Chile are examples of how governments can define ambitious targets and put their plans into practice. These kinds of measures will drive the transition in these regions.”
And Morten Dyrholm, Group Senior Vice President, Marketing, Communication, Sustainability and Public Affairs at wind turbine manufacturer Vestas, emphasises the necessity for cross-sector cooperation. He adds: “In order to achieve European and global targets, the wind industry needs more locations, quicker approval procedures, and considerable investment in transport and logistical infrastructure for onshore and offshore wind power, the electricity grid, and hydrogen. It has to be possible to overcome all obstacles at a global, European, national, regional and local level quickly.”
Helping to shape industry growth: the significance of a leading global trade fair for the development of the wind industry and hydrogen economy
Giles Dickson outlines the enormous growth potential of renewables: “Today, electricity makes up a quarter of the European energy system. By 2050, this will be three quarters. Fifty-seven per cent of total energy consumption will then be directly electrified, 18% indirectly via green hydrogen and its derivatives. Wind energy is ideally positioned to drive this process. By 2050, 50% of all electricity in the EU will come from wind. We are therefore delighted to be the European partner of WindEnergy Hamburg 2022. During WindEnergy, we will analyse and discuss how this energy transition can become a reality.”
Aivars Starikovs again explicitly emphasises the significance of Hamburg in the hydrogen economy: “It is extremely important that the H2EXPO & CONFERENCE become a hub and meeting platform in Hamburg. The H2EXPO & CONFERENCE can achieve the crucial task of building bridges between northern and southern Europe in order to tackle economic and ecological challenges together and with added force.”
Bernd Aufderheide summarises the speaker statements and sends a clear message regarding trade fair participation: “Sustainable societal and political strategies when tackling climate change and eliminating the use of fossil fuels result from dialogue. And this is precisely what we offer our guests during WindEnergy Hamburg and the H2EXPO & CONFERENCE in Hamburg. With more than 1,200 exhibiting companies and excellently networked partners such as the experts from the GWEC and WindEurope, as well as national industry associations like the VDMA and BWE, we expect 30,000 guests from 100 countries to help shape a climate-neutral future.”
You will find the full press conference as a video stream and additional information here.