New wind power installations will continue throughout most parts of the world in 2012. While government financial support will wane in some regions, others race to meet lofty goals of 20% wind-ependence in the first quarter of this century.
Wind energy has been one of the fastest growing sources of new manufacturing jobs in the U.S. even in the depths of the recession. Between 2005 and 2009, wind power grew at an astounding pace in the U.S., adding 35% of all new electricity capacity between 2007 and 2010, making wind power and natural gas the top two new electricity sources. Today, U.S. wind power capacity represents more than 20% of the world’s installed wind power.
The mandate from U.S. leadership is for 20% reliance on wind-derived electricity by 2030. To meet this goal, new wind power installations will ramp up to more than 16,000 megawatts (MW) per year by 2018 and continue at that rate through 2030 (Figure A). In the 20% wind scenario, 46 states will experience significant wind power development.
The fourth quarter of 2011 saw 3,444 megawatts MW of wind power capacity installed, bringing total installations in 2011 to 6,810 MW. The U.S. wind industry now totals 46,919 MW of cumulative wind capacity through the end of 2011. There are over 8,300 MW currently under construction across 100 separate projects spanning 31 states plus Puerto Rico.
With 27 GW of wind farms currently under construction, China expects to have steady new development, though it’s unlikely that growth will continue at the rate it has in the past.
The Chinese government has become apprehensive about licensing new projects. In August 2011, China’s National Energy Bureau provided licenses for 28.8 GW of new wind project over the next five years. This accounts for only about half of the applications that were received. Nationwide access to the grid is posing a challenge. With the majority of China’s electricity consumers in the south and east, and wind capacity in the north, extending grid connectivity to the north has been troublesome. In the last eight months of 2011, there were 193 grid accidents that disconnected a large number of wind turbines, including 12 accidents that crippled more than 500 MW of turbines.
Latin America is a rapidly emerging new wind market, thanks to a huge regional wind resource and high demand for new electricity. Mexico, Brazil and Chile are leading the region with significant growth. A severe lack of organization led to a slow start in 2008 and 2009 with 15 regional markets combining for a small installed capacity of 700 MW at the end of 2008. In 2009, rapid growth led to an early 1.7 GW according to the Global Wind Energy Council. In 2010, the region passed the 2 GW hurdle, and now estimate completion of 10 GW of new power purchase agreements by 2014. Turbine manufacturers Gamesa and Alstom recently opened factories in Brazil to serve their 3.8 GW pipeline of projects.
The region’s growing economy and massive wind resources have led to incremental progress in South Africa’s move towards wind energy. While Egypt is leading the effort with 550 MW currently online, South Africa, Morocco, Ethiopia, and Kenya are emerging new markets. Despite political turmoil, Egypt remains committed to growing its wind program with plans to increase its wind capacity to 2.7 GW by 2016 and nearly tripling that by 2020 to fulfill its goal of 12% electrical reliance on wind. Morocco currently has 286 MW online but stalled during last year’s economic depression and did not produce anything new. Additional projects in Ethiopia and Kenya are struggling to get financing. Ethiopia completed a significant installation of 34 Goldwind turbines in December of 2011.
India installed a record 2.14 GW of wind power capacity in 2010, becoming the world’s third largest annual market after China and the U.S. Currently, India ranks fifth in total installed capacity. The country is phasing out tax breaks in early 2012, causing a slew of activity leading up to the expected April 2012 deadline.
According to Wind Power Intelligence, India has a project pipeline of 3.5 GW of new projects. Like China, there are challenges with extending the grid to meet the new developments coming online. Despite this, analysts predict that India will increase capacity by 3-5 GW annually over the next 5 years.
In 2010, Japan added 22 MW of wind power for a total cumulative of 2.43 GW. South Korea had 31 MW of wind turbines installed to increase to 342 MW at the end of 2010. It has recently made a large commitment to invest $9 billion to build 2.5 GW in offshore wind power by 2019. The rate of installed wind capacity in Australia has slowed in recent years with only 167 MW of new turbines installed. This was attributed to a lack of government policy framework to encourage development. New Zealand, however, is expected to achieve the milestone of 20% wind energy reliance by 2030. Currently, wind accounts for about 4% of its electrical supply. 570 MW are expected to come online in 2012.
To learn more about the future of wind energy, try these helpful resources:
(Source: Windpower Monthly 2012)