Clean Power

Published on March 14th, 2014 | by Zachary Shahan


Putin Can’t Turn Off Europe’s Wind

March 14th, 2014 by  

So said the President of the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA), Andrew Garrad, at EWEA’s annual conference in Barcelona.


Of course, this was in reference to the potential European energy problems that come from the turmoil in Ukraine, but it really makes a much broader point: wind energy and solar energy provide better energy security. For one, the energy sources are local. Secondly, they’re extremely distributed. As military leaders have emphasized for years, you can’t shut down an electricity grid by bombing or hacking a wind turbine or solar panel system.

Coming back to Garrad’s comments, he stated: “Mr Putin can and perhaps will turn off the tap that supplies Western Europe with oil and gas but even Mr Putin bare-chested, or fully clothed cannot turn off the tap that supplies our wind, our free indigenous fuel. It seems however that some politicians would rather line Mr Putin’s pockets than agree an ambitious target for renewables for 2030.”

He also added: “every one of you, if you live within the European Union, pays 2 euros a day to pay for imports of fossil fuel from outside the European Union. If you aggregate that, that’s roughly a billion euros every day we are paying for outside fuels. Our industry brings energy independence and huge savings.”

Diarmaid Williams of Power Engineering International noted that Garrad also discussed how renewables such as wind help to tackle global warming and the catastrophic effects of climate change, referencing the Philippines in particular. But he emphasized that Garrad put more focus on the story surrounding the Ukraine than anything else. Garrad wrote: “He was particularly keen to emphasise how present European governmental discomfort could have been alleviated if the bloc had been more aggressive in pursuing its renewable power potential instead of continuing to import fossil fuels from its eastern neighbour.”

Check out more wind energy news, and subscribe to our wind energy or overall cleantech newsletter.

Photo Credit: MATEUS_27:24&25 / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

Check out our new 93-page EV report, based on over 2,000 surveys collected from EV drivers in 49 of 50 US states, 26 European countries, and 9 Canadian provinces.

Tags: , , , ,

About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the typed word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession, Solar Love, and Bikocity. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in.

  • Will E

    really like Putin.
    The crisis proofeness of renewables will be in the picture.
    All ministeries of defense should pay for Solar and Wind
    from the defense budget.
    more effective than guns and things.

    • Doug Cutler

      Will E, your unique syntax still makes a lot of sense.

      • A Real Libertarian

        He’s like the Anti-Mark.

    • Great idea.

      I’m sure we could sell US politicians that one… oh, wait, national defense isn’t their chief reason for having a ginormous military budget.

  • Ronald Brakels

    Maybe I’m weird but when I look at Russia I see a country of about 144 million with a nominal GDP of about $2.2 trillion and when I look at the EU I see a group of countries with a population of half a billion and a nominal GDP of $16.2 trillion. So if Russia is a bear what is the European Union? A dinosaur? The Loch Ness Monster? A pod of narwhals? What ever it is, its economy is over seven times larger than Russia’s. The EU gets 34% of its gas from Russia while 84% of Russian gas gets sold to the EU. About one half of Russia’s total trade is with the EU while only about 10% of the EU’s foreign trade is with Russia. And when I look at the EU I also see a group of nations that has demonstrated an ability to deal with energy shocks and rapidly expand renewable energy capacity. So if Russia is a bear then perhaps the EU is an elephant. Sure it’s not going to do an elephant any good to get in a fight with a bear, but the outcome certainly isn’t likely to be good for the bear. Now I don’t have any brilliant foreign policy insights and I really don’t want to talk about foreign policy, I just wanted to give an idea of the correct scale of things.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Looking at your numbers it seems it’s time for the EU to start getting Russia out of their face.

    • A Real Libertarian
    • Great work pulling together those numbers. Thanks. Russian bonds and currency is apparently taking a pretty strong hit today. Don’t see how Russia thinks escalating the situation in Ukraine and gobbling up some land & GDP is a good idea. Not looking good for Russia.

      Hope that all of this encourages the EU to speed up its transition to renewables.

  • JamesWimberley

    Mr. Garrad makes a good point. But of course wind energy still requires gas for backup, even if the amount of gas required is much reduced. True independence from Gazprom requires large-scale deployment of despatchable renewables: P2G, biomass, geothermal, or storage.

    • A Real Libertarian

      “But of course wind energy still requires gas for backup, even if the amount of gas required is much reduced.”

      Nearly eliminated in fact:

    • The EU has domestic source of gas (Norway, The Netherlands) that suffice for the little backup we need. Also, there is the option of biomass.

      We need to start heating our homes with heat pumps instead of gas fired central heating boilers. That is what is creating the true depency on gas, not electricity generation.

      Electricity is flexible and therefore much less prone to price shocks and extortion by foreign powers.

  • spec9

    Yep. I’ve been saying it for years . . . one of the most important aspects of Germany’s Energiewende is the fact that it helped make them less reliant on the Russian bear. The more solar, wind, and local biomass you have, the less the Russians can threaten you.

  • Matt

    Think if a 1 Billion euros a day were spent in Europe installing PV/Wind. Why do people never consider the costs of the system that is in place. USA has same problem.

    • Bob_Wallace

      A billion euros per day for imported fuel. Plus how much to pay for the health and environmental costs created by burning fossil fuels?

      Has anyone done the math to see what it would cost the EU27 to go 100% green? I’ll bet someone has.

    • Great point 😀

  • vdiv

    Wait, I can’t see all too well, can we get a BIGGER shot of Comrade Putin’s mug?

    • Bob_Wallace

      You might have to visit Sarah’s porch.

      • vdiv

        The way things are going, he will be on Sarah’s porch all too soon.

    • Haha, i was hoping people would like that. 😀

  • Chatteris

    Putin will probably get the Crimea but he’s certainly going to pay. The Russian economy has already taken quite a hit and the ongoing crisis is certainly going to make Germany and other European countries accelerate the enhancement of their energy independence which means Russia will end up selling less gas.

    • Bob_Wallace

      You make a good point. There’s a lot of value in price stability. Europe is now going to look at imported fuel from Russia as a much higher risk commodity.

  • jburt56

    Right. The Energiewende always had a geopolitical aspect ignored by Koch addicts.

Back to Top ↑