Enercon CEO: Make our case in Spain

After I agreed to chair EWEA 2014, I thought ‘oh my god’ because Spain is not a very positive sign to show how things can work politically,” says Enercon boss Hans-Dieter Kettwig.

“But then I thought how important it is to show in Barcelona that green energy has a future. If we make this conference in Germany, it’s easy to be positive, but Spain is the right place to start in this not-so-easy situation.”

Kettwig points out the compelling arguments in terms of job creation and economic growth for Spanish politicians to renew their support for the wind sector, after two years of “destroying a completely new industry”.

“Spain has installed 70,000 wind turbines with old technology,” he says. “They can carry out a huge repowering project that will allow them to create industry and jobs very fast.”

Kettwig cites Enercon’s wind turbine manufacturing complex in neighbouring Portugal as a positive example, pointing out that it is now functioning as an export hub and supplying turbines to Brazil, France, Germany and Sweden, as well as providing employment for over 2,000 people.

While winning the arguments in places like Spain, where politicians have reacted against wind-power growth, is highly important, much of the current debate over European energy policy depends on the continued success of the energy transition in Germany.

“The biggest mistake would be if Germany says our target is not so high as in the past,” says Kettwig, adding that Germany can act as a “blueprint” for other European countries such as France. “Germany must show that the Energiewende works. Then others will come.”

Meanwhile, the traditionally Germany-focused Enercon is likely to become more internationally orientated in the coming period, and Kettwig says the company has considerable flexibility if German onshore wind development slows down.

“At the moment we can’t deliver enough in other countries because we don’t have enough turbines, so if we have a 20% problem in Germany then we bring this 20% to other countries,” says Kettwig. He points to a number of promising markets around the world, including Turkey, Canada, Sweden and South Africa.

At the same time, Enercon is likely to retain its traditional emphasis on quality rather than price. “We follow the same Enercon idea that cheap is not everything, because we see that many competitors’ balance sheets are under pressure and that is not helpful for the industry,” says Kettwig. “Everyone wants very cheap machines but it must run for 20 years, so sometimes we think it is not the right way.”