Our conferences may be called Financing Wind, but it is easy to find people with expertise in other renewable energy sectors both on-stage and in the networking breaks. Richard Heap looks at the composition of the attendees at our events, and what this means for those who want discussion about more than just wind.

We’re called A Word About Wind. Our conferences are called Financing Wind. And our new awards events are called the Wind Investment Awards.

It won’t take anyone by surprise to know that onshore and offshore wind are central to our events, as well as the content in our newsletters and our special reports. It is the thread that connects the people who come to our events and read our editorial.

However, this also prompts a good question that we often get from people looking to attend our events: ‘Do your conferences only focus on wind? Or do you look at other renewables and other technology – solar, hydro and storage – as well?’

That’s the question that I’m going to be answering in this post.

Wide expertise in the room

Onshore wind and offshore wind are clearly the big areas of focus at our events, and within that we look more at the financial side of the sector than other events do. This is because investors will play a vital role in ensuring wind projects are

Offshore wind tends to play a bigger role at our European events compared with our North American events, because it is one of the few ways to build renewable energy at scale in Europe. You can look at the agendas on our Financing Wind website.

But we’re very aware that wind doesn’t exist in a vacuum. We also look to reflect the interests of our members and the key talking points in the industry. Increasingly, that includes technology that is complimentary to wind, such as storage and solar, so it is natural that these end up being discussed on stage and in networking breaks.

For example, our members from large institutional investors and utilities will typically be looking to invest and develop in renewables on a global basis. That means many of them will have portfolios split between different technologies and countries, and so will be well-versed in talking about both wind and solar projects.

At our last Financing Wind Europe event in November 2018, investors and bankers made up 23% of attendees while those from developers and utilities made up 20%.

Likewise, our attendees from advisory and consultancy firms (19% of attendees at the last FW Europe) and legal firms (16%) tend to focus on technologies alongside wind. You can read more about the audience at Financing Wind Europe in this post.

The main group of attendees that might not have historically focused much outside of wind are those on the manufacturing and O&M side of the industry.

Now, that is a blunt statement. Some manufacturers such as Vestas and Nordex have traditionally focused on wind, while others – Siemens and General Electric – have looked at other sectors too across their sprawling international operations.

However, even that blunt statement is becoming increasingly outdated.

Manufacturing giants such as Siemens Gamesa and Vestas have been making high-profile moves into sectors including storage and solar in recent years, as they look to pair wind with these other technologies in hybrid projects. That trend will pick up in future years – and will mean that those at our conferences with experience of other sectors will only rise.

In my view, this will also filter through into the discussion on stage. We’re always on the lookout for trends and debates that our members want to hear more about.

Conclusion

So the answer to that initial question has to be: no. There is plenty of experience in other renewable energy sectors in the room, and it shouldn’t be hard to find people with expertise that extends far beyond wind. This may also be an area where we can help to make introductions to relevant professionals in the run-up to the event.

As for the agenda, we do focus more on wind when putting together our agendas. It is common for discussion about technologies including solar and storage to feature too. These different parts of the renewables sector are becoming more entwined.

This reflects our editorial ethos. Yes, we focus on wind. However, our mandate is far broader that that. We see wind as a key part of the energy sector as more countries make the transition to low-carbon sources. This puts it at the heart of debates about politics, economics, business continuity and how best to tackle the climate crisis.

For example, it is impossible to have a conversation about the pricing of wind energy in Scandinavia without also looking at the impact of hydro; and it is impossible to talk about the future of wind without considering storage and the growth of solar.

Yes, we primarily cover wind – but we and our attendees look far broader than that.