Siemens Gamesa CEO and new WindEurope chairman Andreas Nauen said the wind industry can help make Europe the world’s first climate-neutral continent, but warned the right policy foundations are needed without delay if that’s to happen.

Nauen – who was elected chairman of the industry lobbying group on Monday – said the sector was “in the right place at the right time” to play a “decisive role” in meeting the EU’s target for a net-zero energy system by mid-century, including an ambitious 55% emissions cut as soon as 2030, that was announced earlier this year.

“I’m convinced, even if it’s a long time ahead, we can make Europe the first climate-neutral continent by 2050,” Nauen said during a discussion on WindEurope’s Wind TV online conference platform during the WindEnergy Hamburg industry exhibition.

The Siemens Gamesa chief pointed to the 300GW of offshore wind and 750GW of onshore wind that Brussels needs to help hit that goal, the latter representing a fourfold increase, and the interest in governments in wind power as part of an industrial downturn from Covid downturn.

But Nauen warned that the EU’s member states all need to “pull in the same direction” if the bloc is to meet its targets, pointing out that not all have the visibility on renewable energy auctions needed to give manufacturers and the supply chain visibility for planning.

He added that integration into the grid remains a challenge.

“Progress has been made, but it’s still not enough. We have to get a lot better at it in Europe.”

The timeframe for the changes needed is tight, Nauen said. “The foundations need to be added now,” if the EU’s ambitions are to be met.

Nauen said the wind industry also needs a sharper focus on the demand side for its output, including the opportunities for green hydrogen in sectors such as steel.

The new WindEurope chairman said he is relishing his 18-month tenure for the opportunity it will bring to help shape the industry’s continuing success story, paying tribute to the sector’s employees.

Nauen said he came into wind “because I want to work with good people”, explaining that means not just proficient at their jobs but also in the industry with the motivation to make a difference for the better.