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The European wind energy industry is being hit by the economic crisis, and a difficult situation should not be made worse by politicians undermining investor confidence, warned top industry figures in Vienna, the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) reports.

At the opening of EWEA's annual wind power conference, politicians and industry representatives also spoke of the need to secure the further growth of wind energy in Europe after the current 2020 renewable energy target runs out, and of the disparity between fossil fuel and renewable energy subsidies.

Arthouros Zervos, president of EWEA, criticized "sudden or retroactive changes to support schemes" and warned that "the wind industry can be a driver for growth, for jobs and exports but not if government policies drive away investors."

Zervos told industry leaders and ministers that the wind industry is suffering serious job losses and will suffer more difficulties this year. He called for binding renewable energy targets for 2030 as a way to create investor confidence.

Meanwhile, Fatih Birol, chief economist at the International Energy Agency, said global fossil-fuel subsidies totaled $523 billion in 2011, compared to just $88 billion for renewable energy.

According to Francesco Starace, CEO of Enel Green Power and chair of EWEA 2013, policy will be critical to ensuring the success of the European wind energy industry.

"Many are the challenges that the European wind industry will face at the domestic level, which require attention now: [European Union (EU)] energy policy after 2020, the further development of electricity infrastructure, and the competitiveness and integration of wind energy in the electricity market are among the most pressing," he said. "Furthermore, for preparing a proper future, the present should be adequately dealt with, and therefore, for reaching the 2020 targets, EU member states have to guarantee efficient and reliable renewable energy policies.”

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