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Global Wind Market Hits 155 GW

Global wind energy markets are expected to continue their rapid growth, with the world's wind power capacity increasing by 160% over the coming five years, according to the annual industry forecast presented by the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC).

GWEC said that it expects that the global installed wind capacity will reach 409 GW by 2014, up from 158.5 GW at the end of 2009. This assumes an average growth rate of 21% per year, which is conservative compared to the 29% average growth that the wind industry experienced over the past decade. The organization predicts that in 2014, total wind capacity additions will be more than 60 GW, up from the 38.3 GW of annual wind capacity installations in 2009.

"Even in the face of a global recession and financial crisis, wind energy continues to be the technology of choice in many countries around the world. Wind power is clean, reliable and quick to install, so it is the most attractive solution for improving supply security, reducing CO2 emissions, and creating thousands of jobs in the process," said Steve Sawyer, GWEC Secretary General. "All of these qualities are of key importance, even more so in times of economic uncertainty."

GWEC will present its full annual Global Wind 2009 Report at the European Wind Energy Conference in Warsaw on April 21 2010, which will include a five year forecast for the development of the global wind energy market. In the past, these projections have regularly been outstripped by the actual performance of the industry and have had to be adjusted upwards. Despite the ramifications of the financial crisis, 2009 was no exception.

The two markets leading global wind power expansion will continue to be the U.S. and China, whose markets have exceeded all expectations in recent years.

North America Wind Development

While in the U.S., the development for 2010 will be hampered by continued tightness in the financial markets and the overall economic downturn, the provisions of the US government's Recovery Act, and in particular the grant programs, will continue to counteract the impacts of the crisis.

Coupled with legislative uncertainty at the federal level in Canada, the result is that the North American market is forecast to stay flat for the next couple of years, and then pick up again in 2012, to reach a cumulative total of 101.5 GW by 2014 (up from 38.5 GW in 2009). This would translate into an addition of 63 GW in the US and Canada over the next five years.

Canada could see a boost from offshore projects however. This week Windstream Wolfe Island Shoals Inc., a subsidiary of Windstream Energy LLC was awarded a Feed-in Tariff contract by the Ontario Power Authority to develop Canada's first offshore wind site. The 300 MW site is located west of Wolfe Island, Ontario on approximately 48,000 acres of shallow water shoals in Lake Ontario.

"We are extremely excited about the opportunity afforded to us by the government of Ontario and the Ontario Power Authority. The 300MW offshore Wolfe Island site will create hundreds of jobs for the Province of Ontario and the local municipalities. Wolfe Island is one of the windiest areas of the province and has proven local support for wind development. Our project is close to the Lennox Thermal Station, and will offset the use of fossil fuels, by providing power generated by the abundant winds of Lake Ontario," said Ian Baines, president of Windstream Energy.

Chinese Wind Growth

In China, growth is set to continue at a breathtaking pace. Already in 2009, China accounted for one third of total annual wind capacity additions, with 13.8 GW worth of new wind farms installed. This took China's total capacity up to 25.9 GW, thereby overtaking Germany as the country with the most wind power capacity by a narrow margin.

China will remain one of the main drivers of global growth in the coming years, with annual additions expected to be over 20 GW by 2014. This development is underpinned by a very aggressive government policy supporting the diversification of the electricity supply and the growth of the domestic industry. The Chinese government has an unofficial target of 150 GW of wind capacity by 2020, and with the current growth rates, it looks likely that this ambitious target will be met well ahead of time.

Europe and Beyond

Until 2013, Europe will continue to host the largest wind capacity. However, GWEC expects that by the end of 2014, Europe's installed capacity will stand at 136.5 GW, compared to Asia's 148.8 GW. By 2014, the annual European market will reach 14.5 GW, and a total of 60 GW will be installed in Europe over this five-year period.

The African wind market isn't high on many analysts radar, but developer Rainmaker Energy Projects has started full Environmental Impact Assessments for two proposed wind farms situated in the Eastern Cape, South Africa totaling 610 MW. Rainmaker has been conducting on-site feasibility studies for the past year and plans to have all development processes completed by the fourth quarter of 2010.

The two projects are the 550-MW Dorper project covering 150 square kilometers in the vicinity of Molteno and the 60-MW AB’s project covering 20 square kilometers in the vicinity of Indwe.

“The Dorper and AB’s projects have shown the most magnificent wind regime. In terms of average wind speed, mean wind speed and energy profile, they are exceptional. During peak usage times over winter, the Dorper and AB’s projects both consistently have the profile which could almost be compared to a base load power station — complementing South Africa’s energy consumption profile and providing power when its grid is at its most fragile," said Development Manager for Rainmaker Energy Projects’ Luke Callcott-Stevens.

A number of wind energy projects in South Africa have commenced development during the last three years, but the industry has so far failed to come online. However, the Renewable Energy Feed-in Tariff (REFIT) announced in 2009 and the proposed introduction of the Independent Systems Operator by the Department of Energy and the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA) promise an imminent breakthrough for the industry.

The proposed Dorper and AB’s projects both have existing transmission grid infrastructure on site. Their development and operation could contribute to the Department of Energy’s self-imposed target of producing 10,000 GWh of renewable energy by the year 2013.

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