EWEA (the European Wind Energy Association) held its "4th Annual Wind Energy in Hungary policy workshop" in Budapest today in cooperation with the Hungarian Wind Industry Association (MSZIT) and the Hungarian Wind Energy Association (MSZET).
Dr Benedek Jávor (Chairman of the Parliament Sustainable Development Committee) gave a key note speech after which more than one hundred industry professionals took part in sessions dealing with Hungary's challenging regulatory environment and exchanged information on the technical conditions needed for a properly functioning market for wind power. Dr Jávor stressed the importance of a careful re-consideration of the current 2020-2030 energy policy's emphasis on increasing the role of nuclear and coal as "a greener energy mix can be achieved at lower costs and risks."
Speaking in the opening session Ruta Baltause, the European Commission representative, reiterated the necessity for Hungary to meet its EU commitments on the development of renewables.
In spite of its relatively modest target, Hungary is already struggling to keep pace with its own objectives. According to its National Renewable Energy Action Plan Hungary should have reached 330 Megawatt (MW) of renewable energy installed by the end of 2011, but the latest progress report notes that only 293 MW are installed. This represents more than 44 million Euros in lost investment for Hungary.
This gap is all the more regrettable as the wind industry is not only resilient in the crisis, but it also has the potential of creating numerous quality jobs. Between 2007 and 2010 the EU sector grew 33% while the EU's GDP was in decline. In 2010 the wind industry employed 238 000 people. EWEA projects that this figure will reach 520 000 in 2020 and the contribution of the wind energy sector to GDP is set to double over the next decade.
With over 300 employees, family-owned Lakics Ltd demonstrated that in an open market the wind industry can generate a significant number of jobs, even in a country with relatively low wind penetration.
Speaking in the closing debate, Pierre Tardieu , Regulatory Affairs Advisor for EWEA, concluded: "In light of the potential job creation by the industry, Hungarian decision-makers should see the implementation of the EU renewables Directive as a chance rather than a threat in facing the current economic downturn. A stable and ambitious legal framework designed to meet these objectives would go a long way in delivering the potential of the wind industry to the Hungarian economy.”