RWE Renewables Offshore Wind CEO Sven Utermöhlen declared that “more than ever, energy policy is security policy” as he was elected new chair of industry body WindEurope.

Utermöhlen, who will hold the post for the next 18 months, was named chair on the eve of WindEurope’s 2022 Annual Event in Bilbao and against a background of unprecedented European focus on the potential of renewables to secure energy independence as well as decarbonisation.

The RWE executive said: “A faster expansion of wind energy is particularly important if we are to achieve the European climate targets and the goal of greater energy sovereignty. Society, our political leaders, and we as an industry have to take on greater responsibility to make this work and, above all, seize the opportunities that arise from the energy transition.”

Utermöhlen – an energy sector veteran of almost three decades and RWE offshore chief since 2021 – singled out more rapid permitting of new projects as a particularly urgent issue facing European wind as it looks to play a key role in the expanded ambitions of the European Commission’s REPowerEU plan, released in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

WindEurope CEO Giles Dickson said: “The coming months will be crucial for wind energy in Europe. The EU's REPowerEU agenda requires an even faster expansion of renewables to help improve Europe’s energy security.

“That in turn requires urgent action to accelerate the permitting of new wind farms. And to tackle the problems facing Europe’s wind energy supply chain. In Sven Utermöhlen WindEurope have elected a highly experienced and capable CEO to serve as its Chair for the next 18 months.”

WindEurope also named a new vice-chairman in Kresten Ørnbjerg, VP head of global public affairs at Vestas, who said: “I look forward to working closely with our members to ensure the right policy frameworks are implemented, so the wind industry can deliver our investment in Europe’s energy systems, and build the scale needed to meet Europe’s climate goals.”