Thursday, 9 April 2009

The Gym, Fitness Regimes & Wind Energy

It’s a common phenomenon that, come January of any year, hundreds of people will renew or revive their fitness campaign in order to start the New Year on a positive note, or loose the pounds that piled on during the long hard run up to Christmas and then the holiday season itself.

Gyms all over the country ensure that they have special joining offers available, and the whole population seems to jump into activity as they cycle and run and stretch with renewed vigour and enthusiasm. There are queues for the treadmills, the changing rooms are full, and you need to sign up to your yoga class at least a week in advance in order to squeeze into the packed little room.

But then, around March or April time, normal routine kicks in again. The gym stops being quite so busy and the classes are only half full again. People start to prioritise work and social lives, and gradually - excuse after excuse - despite the knowledge that we really should go to the gym, the enthusiasm of the New Year exercise craze is abandoned. Only those who are really determined to get fit, or who enjoy it, are continuing their fitness plans.

It happens every year.

It feels a bit like we are at that March/April phase of the year in the life cycle of Wind Energy at the moment. The last couple of years have been a whirlwind of activity, with every month seeing a new company moving into the space and exciting developments seemingly happening every time I picked up the phone or logged on to a news site. However, provoked I believe by the economic challenges that the whole world is facing right now, the last few months or so has seen a lot of people back away, or even drop out altogether, from their previously ambitious wind energy plans.

Shell, this month, announced that it was withdrawing from its Wind Energy programme and would be pursuing biofuels instead (it is note worthy that they receive significant tax breaks in doing so in the USA). BP reduced its renewable energy involvement significantly at the end of 2008, and at the beginning of this month announced further job cuts from their Solar Energy business. Vicious rumours flew round about Iberdrola withdrawing investment, although that claim was then revoked.
This week I heard terrible rumours about losses being made into the millions by certain divisions of major OEM manufacturers, and small wind companies struggling to remain competitive in the market. The future of the London Array offshore wind remains in question.

I could go on.

But I don’t want to because the aim of this discussion is not to depress us all with bad news. It’s rather to point out that, like with the gym, there are always going to be participants who fall out of the cycle, and go back to what they were doing before – be that burning oil, or putting up telecommunications masts. The crucial thing really is that those players that remain in the game are able to work closely with authorities and policy makers, as well as investment institutions, in order to ensure that the economic trials of 2009 do not prevent the Renewable Energy agenda progressing. There are plenty of companies still dedicated to making Wind Energy a competitive energy source, and many of them with money to spend and teams to grow.

And who knows, maybe some new players will sign up again next January!

Let me know your point of view.

By Clare Buxton,
Wind Energy Sector Lead, EcoSearch

Image by flem007_uk

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