London, UK [Renewable Energy World Magazine] New figures show wind installation continues to break records both in the US and Europe. Is this growth sustainable? If yes, what will continue to drive wind forward? If not, or not at its current rate, which factors might slow the industry's progress?
Roland Chalons-Browne, CEO, Siemens Financial Services
Wind energy is set to maintain its momentum in the wake of growing interest in developing and harnessing alternatives to traditional fossil fuels. As the most widely deployed and commercially used renewable energy source, wind energy offers a large potential with opportunities across the world.
Putting its might behind the sector is China, fast emerging as a supplier of wind energy as well as a key manufacturing base for ancillaries.
The country is expected to take the second spot after the US in terms of total wind power capacity this year. In fact, while the US is expected to witness a decline in financing due to the economic turmoil, Asia is slated to witness the fastest growth in installed wind capacity, to reach 25.5 GW by 2013.
Wind energy continues to gain traction in Europe where it represents 35% of all new energy installations and offers returns on investments between 8%–11%.
Italy, France and the United Kingdom have emerged as new players poised to capitalize on the opportunity in this region.
However, the potential to tap wind energy is still constrained by a few hurdles.
The high costs associated with wind energy – wind farms are not only capital intensive but also have a long gestation period – could prove to be prohibitive for many potential investors.
Volatile commodity prices and the growing trend of wind projects moving farther offshore have compounded these challenges.
More than ever, it takes a reliable financing partner who combines financial and industrial expertise to successfully support sustainable energy projects.
In terms of global policy, governments need to boost investments in onshore and offshore wind generation through the right mix of supportive policies and incentives.
This will help to bring down the high entry costs as well as operating expenses that apply to wind projects.
David Still, managing director, Clipper Windpower Marine Limited
The world needs energy. It is running out of conventional forms and renewable energy is now a real solution, and mandated in many parts of the world.
Fast forward to 2100 and the energy mix will be unrecognizable. We will have changed the habits of the last two centuries in the developed world and growth in less developed countries will need to have followed a route of energy efficiency, smart grids and connections, and an increasing reliance on renewable energy.
There is an ever-increasing requirement for electricity from renewables. The next 20 years will need a focus on providing a grid capable of delivering that electricity, and increasing use of storage to meet the demands of integrating variable energy sources. Wind energy will be a major contributor for the foreseeable future, and the emergence in Europe of offshore wind as a major market will maintain significant growth.
But there are challenges. These include; the financing of projects; the grid in the right place, at the right time and at the right cost; and the need for a strong drive by governments to continue with positive policies to ensure deployment is not delayed.
All of this will maintain a strong market for wind and ensure continued progress.
There is a bright future for wind as part of an energy solution which will start the process of creating a more sustainable world for future generations.
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