Résidence Palace, janvier 2004
It is a great pleasure for me to introduce here the first results of the Wind Energy Thematic Network, which is funded by the Research Framework Programme of the European Union.
Wind power is a prime example of how an ambitious European research effort can give Europe a very strong leadership (90% market share!) in a promising high-technology market.
Wind power is one of the most dynamic renewable sources of energy. Its market is growing steadily at around 35% per year. It is already the second most important source of "green" electricity after hydroelectricity, and it has still huge potential for development with both onshore and offshore installations. And it has created already more than 80.000 jobs in the European Union.
I am proud that this R&D effort received a strong and sustained support from the European Union's Research Framework Programmes for more than 20 years.
European support played an important role in the progress achieved over the last two decades: from the expensive and noisy turbines of 30 kW to today's state-of-the-art turbines producing 4 to 5 MW with much less noise and costs divided by four.
The R&D strategy developed by the Network will now be an important reference for our activities, in order to maintain Europe's technological and industrial leadership in the future.
This contributes both to our research policy objective of reaching 3% of GDP for research investment by 2010, and to our energy policy objective of reaching 12% of renewable energy by the same date.
I am convinced that new environmental technologies are the key for the Union to achieve the objective of the Kyoto Protocol, and to achieve sustainable development in the following decades.
The European Commission will adopt tomorrow an important action plan for environmental technologies. Your strategy for wind power research fits perfectly into this policy priority. It is also a valuable contribution for creating a European Research Area with more coherent research activities on the European scale.
The results of the Wind Energy Thematic Network will be useful to inspire our activities both for the remaining period of the 6th Framework Programme, to the extent possible, and even more in the following Framework Programme.
I hope that these results will also inspire national research activities, and more generally that they will raise awareness of the potential of wind power technologies for Europe's sustainable future.