MHI Vestas Offshore Wind chief executive Philippe Kavafyan says he sees stimulus packages to address the economic crisis from the coronavirus and Europe’s Green Deal as mutually complementary. Together, he says, they represent an opportunity for the wind industry to reinforce its role in the energy transition
In a webinar organised by WindEurope with Alfonso Faubel, onshore wind chief executive at Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy, Mr Kavafyan, who leads one of the world’s leading manufacturers of offshore wind turbines, said he hoped the industry could influence the political debate to reinforce wind energy’s central role in power generation, its ability to create jobs, drive sustainable growth and help decarbonise heavy industries.
“There is a worldwide crisis taking place right now because of Covid-19,” Mr Kavafyan said, “but we know there is another crisis taking place too. That crisis is climate change.”
Mr Kavafyan said he hoped that once the health crisis caused by Covid-19 has been addressed, that governments can address the climate crisis, using stimulus measures to fund sustainable solutions to revive economies and ‘flatten the curve’ of CO2 emissions from power generation and heavy industry.
“This is an opportunity to demonstrate once again to governments that we are a reliable channel for investment that can create sustainable growth and sustainable energy,” he said. He said it was clear before the current crisis that there is an appetite in Europe – and elsewhere – for investing in clean energy.
Mr Kavafyan highlighted that the response to the Covid-19 pandemic had emphasised protection of older people and those at risk. Once the health crisis has been addressed, he said, governments should recognise the need to address young people’s futures and take action to reduce emissions and tackle climate change. He said wind energy can play a central role doing so.
Of the need to address the dire economic effects of the pandemic, Mr Kavafyan said the combination of economic stimulus, and the Green Deal that Europe began working on prior to the crisis, which has offshore wind at its heart, was an opportunity to bring about real change.
He said Europe needs to ensure that stimulus money is used in a way that is economically beneficial and sustainable. “It’s an opportunity to talk about wind energy,” he said. “Climate change is too big an issue to ignore.
“Wind energy isn’t just about manufacturing turbines or substations. It has beneficial effects in many parts of the economy.
“In the longer term, apart from providing jobs and clean energy, wind power also has a major role to play helping to reduce emissions from industrial processes,” Mr Kavafyan said, highlighting how green hydrogen produced using wind energy can help decarbonise industries such as steel and cement.
Mr Faubel agreed, noting that decisions taken about energy policy are usually taken at the highest level, by governments, and the current situation was a “unique opportunity” to influence the debate about climate change and the transition “and come out of the situation stronger than we went in.”