The Dutch government recently published its draft plans aimed at better managing the growth of onshore wind power in the country to the satisfaction of the Dutch Wind Energy Association (NWEA).
The plan sets out how at least 6,000 megawatts of onshore wind power can be installed in the Netherlands in the coming years. New installations are “crucial” if the country is to meet its 2020 renewable targets, according to the NWEA. The recently elected coalition government pledged earlier this year to source 16% of the country’s final energy consumption from renewables by 2020. This is a slight increase compared to the country’s 14% target under the EU renewables directive, but will mean a significant increase in the country’s wind power given that only 2.4 GM of energy are currently provided by wind.
For the past two years, differences of opinion between the Dutch government and the provinces over who has control of certain areas of land has stifled growth in the wind sector. An administrative agreement between the central and regional authorities at the start of the year, followed by plans setting out how land can be used for onshore turbines, means that projects that have been stalled can get back on track and “we can make up for lost time,” says Ton Hirdes, director at NWEA.
Strong markets in China, India and Brazil, and new markets in Latin America, Africa and much of Asia will drive growth in the wind industry over the next five years, according to a new report from the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC), which warns that investment in Europe could falter if renewables policies fail to offer stability.
Record installations in the US and Europe in 2012 led to installations of 44.8 GW of new wind power globally. This was 10% more than was installed in 2011, meaning that global installed capacity has now reached 282.5 GW, a cumulative increase of almost 19%.
The US wind energy industry had its strongest year ever, connecting over 13.1 GW of new wind power capacity from 190 projects, beating China to regain the top spot among global markets for the first time since 2009. Europe also had a good 12 months with 12,744 MW of wind power installed across the continent with EU countries accounting for 11,895 MW of the total.
The forecast globally is for a modest downturn in 2013, followed by a recovery in 2014 and beyond, with global capacity growing at an average rate of 13.7% until 2017, and global capacity nearly doubling to 536 GW.
Copyright Charles Delplanque
After a gloomy couple of years for the wind industry in France, a few glimmers of light have been spotted in recent weeks led by the adoption by the National Assembly of a bill proposed by the Socialist government to simplify measures that have been stymieing the development of the sector.
To boost the production of wind energy in France, help develop other renewable sources of energy and generally encourage the shift towards clean and efficient energy, the government is proposing to weight consumer energy bills according to household consumption from 2016. It has also put forward a raft of measures aimed at making it easier to set up wind farms.
The government proposal suggests a reward/penalty system for calculating consumer energy bills that will take into consideration the amount of energy used, the number of occupants in a household, geographical location, the type of heating system used and local climate conditions.
The law also includes plans to facilitate the construction of small wind farms with fewer than five turbines. Under existing laws, onshore farms must have a minimum of five turbines. This decision is critical if France is to meet its target of 25,000 megawatt installed capacity by 2020, says French renewable energy group SER. France’s total capacity currently stands at about 7,560 MW.
Recent technological advances by leading engineering companies to improve the integration of renewable energy, especially wind energy, within Europe’s power grid by 2020, will bring a pan-European electricity grid closer to reality.
Last year, the Swiss-based engineering company ABB announced the development of the world’s first circuit breaker for high voltage direct current (HVDC). “This solves a 100-year-old electrical engineering puzzle and paves the way for a more efficient and reliable electricity supply system,” says ABB. Most importantly, “it will enable the efficient integration and exchange of renewable energy”.
HVDC technology combines very fast mechanics with power electronics, and will be capable of ‘interrupting’ power flows equivalent to the output of a large power station within five milliseconds- that is 30 times faster than the blink of a human eye, says ABB. It is needed to facilitate the integration of offshore wind power and energy from other renewable sources and to interconnect different power networks in particular since it is efficient for the long-distance transportation of electricity.
Anti-wind power lobbyists have long contested claims by the wind industry that wind power is competitive with fossil fuels. But technological advances, making wind turbines bigger, smarter, and more competitive in all situations, mean the wind is fast being taken out of the naysayers’ sails.
Both EWEA and GWEC, the Global Wind Energy Council, agree that “onshore wind power is competitive once all the costs that affect traditional energy sources – like fuel and CO2 costs, and the effects on environment and health – are factored in”. Taking CO2 costs alone, “if a cost of €30 per tonne of CO2 emitted was applied to power produced, onshore wind energy would be the cheapest source of new power generation in Europe,” states EWEA. Moreover, wind is already “directly competitive with conventional sources in many places around the world, such as Mexico, Brazil, New Zealand, parts of China and the US,” according to GWEC.
Australia also seems to have been added to this list after a report published by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) in February stated that wind is now cheaper than fossil fuels in producing electricity in Australia, a story reported on this blog at the time.