Global Wind Energy Insight: A 2017 Mid-Year Update

According to the latest Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) figures, clean energy investments during second quarter of 2017 reached US$64.8 billion globally, up 21 percent from the first quarter this year. Of that amount, wind energy accounted for US$26.2 billion in new investments over the second quarter.

Across key individual markets, there are nearly 14 GW of wind capacity under construction, as the U.S. wind industry begins building the huge pipeline of projects that qualified last year for the full production tax credit, according to new figures from the American Wind Energy Association. The year-to-date tally stands around 2.4 GW.

In Europe, just over 6 GW of wind energy capacity was added in the first half of 2017, according to figures released by WindEurope. The figure puts Europe on course for a solid year for installations. India is having a strong year. It is likely to exceed installation figures for 2016. By the end of June 2017, the market saw just over 3.8 GW in new capacity, bringing the cumulative installed capacity to 32.5 GW.

China will likely continue to lead the national tally in 2017 too. In January China’s National Energy Administration set a mandatory clean energy target for meeting 20 percent of China’s energy needs by 2030. China has pledged to invest CNY 2.5 trillion (~ US$367 billion) in renewables-based generation by 2020.

Recently Saudi Arabia, a fossil fuel producing country, moved a step closer toward the construction of its first utility-scale wind power project. This step was taken in line with the country’s plan to produce 10 percent of its power from renewable energy by 2023. The Saudi Arabian energy ministry asked potential bidders and plant developers to submit their qualifications to build the 400-MW project at Dumat Al Jandal in the Al Jouf region.

2017’s second quarter saw two large offshore wind arrays financed in Europe. These include the 200-MW Borkum West II and 112-MW Albatros projects in Germany’s waters, at US$918 million and US$532 million. Other top project deals of the quarter were two Chinese 300-MW offshore wind arrays, namely the Three Gorges Dafeng and Three Gorges Zhuanghe, costing an estimated US$1.8 billion in total.

The Falling Price of Wind Energy

According to BNEF’s New Energy Outlook, renewable energy sources are set to represent almost three quarters of the US$ 10.2 trillion that the world will invest in new power generating technology until 2040. This will happen largely due to rapidly falling costs, and a growing role for batteries, including electric vehicle batteries, in balancing supply and demand. The report expects wind to account for almost 30 percent of this new investment out to 2040.

Various leading industry experts and publications have estimated that the cost of producing energy using wind has dropped to around EUR 100/MWh. This price makes the energy source almost as cost-effective as conventional coal and nuclear energy in most markets.

Europe’s offshore wind industry reached a milestone several years ahead of schedule by achieving the cost of EUR 100 (US$113)/MWh. Overall for wind energy, there has been a fast reduction in price over the last three years, falling almost 27 percent since 2014. Some even predict a further reduction in price. But this hopeful advancement depends on the location and the available turbine, cable, and converter technology.

Wind Power: Fast-tracking the RE Uprising

Wind power’s fall in price marks a major victory for renewable energy because it makes the power source attractive economically and environmentally, which is crucial for its widespread adoption.

It is unlikely that we will use less power as the world’s population increases and economic development continues. To meet the rising energy demand in the medium to long term, new generation will increasingly make use of cleaner and greener options. Advances in wind power are especially promising, as it lays the path for renewables creating both individual and collective gain.

Looking Ahead

We are on track for a good year in wind capacity installations. Looking at our rolling five-year forecast, we see just under 60 GW installed globally in 2017, a more or less flat 2018 and then growth again out through the end of the decade to bring total installations up to just over 800 GW by the end of 2021, with the annual market rising to 75 GW in that year.

Global growth will continue to be driven by Asian markets. While we expect the Chinese market in 2017 to do better than last year, due to the imminent feed-in-tariff reduction, it is unlikely to repeat its 2015 record of more than 30 GW, at least in the medium term.

Lead image: India. Credit: LM Windpower

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Shruti Shukla is a Director - Policy and Global Projects at the Global Wind Energy Council. She joined GWEC at the end of 2010. She has over 10 years of experience working in the field of energy policy and climate change. At GWEC she is responsible for the organisation's market research and report writing and statistical analysis. She also is the team lead for the EU funded FOWIND project in India. She holds an MS in Environmental Policy and Regulation from the London School of Economics and a Master’s in Business Economics from the University of Delhi.

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