WWEA has a knack of choosing great sites for their conferences. This year was no exception. Jeju is a green scenic crater island south of the Korea mainland – deservedly a favourite destination of honeymoon couples. The conference and exhibition facilities of the JEJU International Conference Centre command a stunning view over the South Ocean.

More than 580 delegates attended to discuss more that 103 papers, inspect over 40 exhibition stands and enjoy the superb cultural offerings of local traditional dances, exquisite bonsai gardens, not to mention the exotic food.

A group of young volunteers welcomed visitors and assisted in a helpful way, stressing the World Wind Energy Association (WWEA) core theme of “community power”, a theme that differentiates WWEA from also-runs. Another appropriate theme was “wind energy on islands”. This is apt because islands, together with low-lying countries are the first to suffer the catastrophic impacts of the rising sea level caused by climate change that was not primarily caused by the islands.

Wind energy is an obvious choice since islands mostly have wind, but are generally not connected to larger grids. To me, one of the conference highlights was a paper showing the Galapagos Islands’ transition to 100% renewables, including transport by electric vehicles. Fortuitously a paper was added on the state and prospects of non-fossil personal vehicles showing the transitional nature of popular hybrid vehicles whose performance does not compete with the best of current internal combustion models, despite all the hype. It also questioned the “Hydrogen Economy’, especially where not based on renewable energies.

WWEA conferences have contributed to the introduction of the REFIT in South Africa and in Canada, both countries not renowned for leadership in renewable energy until very recently.

The presence of Mr George Smitherman, Minister of Energy for the Government of Ontario, Canada aptly illustrated the enlightened new course. Well-seasoned political renewable stalwarts like Hans-Josef Fell and Kai Schlegelmilch from Germany graced the podium. Another highlight was the speech by Franz Alt, stressing the urgent global need to transition to renewables, not only as a technical substitute but as the instrument of world peace. 

The new area of renewable energy has dimensions that are techno-economic, but also – and perhaps more important in our times – aspects that are social-spiritual.

The next WWEA conference is 23-25 June 2010 in Istanbul, Turkey. ISES and WWEA have a strategic alliance.