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Press2008, News

Global wind installations pass 100 GW, and are predicted to rise to 240 GW by 2012


Wind energy is booming worldwide. Following another record year in 2007 with over 20 GW of new wind capacity, and additional installations at the beginning of 2008, the global wind market has now passed 100 GW. On the second day of the European Wind Energy Conference (EWEC) in Brussels, the opportunities and challenges facing the world’s leading wind energy markets, plus the huge potential for the future, were discussed.

Steve Sawyer, Chief Executive of the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC), opened the session by presenting GWEC’s new publication, Global Wind Energy Report 2007, which provides an overview of the situation worldwide and its impressive recent expansion.

“Due above all to the stronger than anticipated growth in the US and China in recent years, and China’s emerging manufacturers, which are helping ease global supply, there has been an unexpectedly strong increase in wind deployment all round the world,” he explained. “As a result, GWEC now foresees the global wind power market growing by over 155% to reach 240 GW of total installed capacity by 2012”.

Birger T Madsen, from BTM Consult, explained that his company forecasts 140,000 MW of annual installations over the next thirteen years, which will give a cumulative installed capacity of nearly 1 million MW (1,000 GW) by 2020.

“1,000 GW of capacity will enable wind power to provide 7–8% of the world’s electricity demand by 2020,” he added.

There are many markets worldwide whose development will help ensure this wind energy expansion. Senior Energy Specialist from the World Bank, Søren Krohn, looked at some of those with the most potential. Mexico is a “fully developed market for independent power producers”, but has transmission issues and supply bottlenecks to overcome. Turkey has a “feed-in tariff system, which gives access to a wholesale market”. Meanwhile in Morocco “there is a strong government commitment to wind energy, with a target of 1,000 MW of installed capacity by 2012, up from the current total of 124 MW”.

One country which has already started installing significant amounts of wind energy is the US, which in 2007 added a record 5.2 GW of capacity to reach 16.8 GW. This accounted for about 30% of the country’s new power-producing capacity in 2007. In Europe, wind energy made up 40% of new energy installations last year.

Rob Gramlich, from the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), presented a new draft report, entitled 20% wind vision – a collaborative technical report. The document shows that it is technically and economically possible for 20% of US electricity to come from wind by 2030, up from just over 1% today.

Rob Gramlich stated that “we need to install over 16 GW annually in order to reach the 300 GW by 2030 that will give us the 20% of electricity from wind. We need to change people’s perceptions so that they see that benefits such as jobs and a stronger economy are closely linked to our choice of power-generating technology.”

While the North American wind industry is booming, South America has been slower taking off. Despite its vast natural resources, there is only 530 MW of wind capacity currently installed there. Christian Grütte from Leonardo Venablers in Spain presented the South American wind market. He outlined the reasons for the continent’s slow start, citing political instability, lack of attractive incentives, limited grid access and restricted turbine supply as the major barriers.

He concluded that “South America has a potential wind energy capacity of more than 300 GW. In the coming years, governments should start introducing the reliable investor incentives and objectives the region’s industry needs, in order to begin to fulfil this potential”.

One of the South American countries with the best wind resources is Chile. Cristobal Garcia-Huidobro from Centinel presented the development of wind energy in Chile. Initially dependent on gas from Argentina, the country was left stranded when its neighbour cut off supplies in 2004. This eventually led to discussions on a renewable energy law, which came into force in March 2007. The law obliges generators with over 200 MW of installed capacity to meet a 10% renewables target.

Chile’s first ever wind farm began operations in December 2007. Currently at just 18 MW, an additional 70 MW should come on line soon, and a second wind farm project is under development.

The chairman of the session, Peter Brun from Vestas, concluded by underlining, as all the speakers had done, the strong worldwide potential of wind energy.

He said, “Globally, we can see strong market trends, but there are still a lot of unclear areas and obstacles. The trends alone are not enough. We need policy stability and transmission planning. In this way, we can show policy-makers that wind is not a niche or ‘alternative’ form of energy, but a mainstream source of power.”

In a later session, various awards were presented. Four Poster Awards went to René Cattin, Florian Bertsch, Simon Watson and Gabriele Michalke for their innovative and interesting designs.

The Scientific Award was presented to Stig Oye for his outstanding work in wind energy technology. The Excellent Young Wind Doctor award, given for the first time at this year’s EWEC, aims to bring recognition to recently graduated PhD students. It was won by Dr. Jason M. Jonkman and Dr. Tonis Sant.

For more information on EWEC, please click here.


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