The global wind power capacity is forecast to rise to over 290 gigawatts by the end of 2015 from 91 GW at the end of 2007, according to a report released by Cambridge, Mass.-based consulting firm Emerging Energy Research (EER). Annual wind power growth is projected to increase by 50 percent, to over 30 GW in 2015 from an added 17.5 GW per year in 2007, according to the report.
The bulk of this growth is seen taking place in the U.S. and China, while Europe holds onto its shrinking lead. The Asia Pacific region, meanwhile, is expected to surpass North America by 2015 in total wind power capacity. “U.S. federal renewable energy policy support and pro-active transmission expansion projects will need to stay on pace for the country to remain ahead of China’s voracious renewables growth appetite,” warns Senior EER Analyst Joshua Magee.
The projected wind growth in the U.S. is credited to the extension of the Federal Production Tax Credit through the end of 2008 and the strengthening of the Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS). However, the fate of the Energy Bill as whole, and specifically the inclusion — let alone “strengthening” — of the RPS is far from a sure thing. And as “Jim” pointed out in our comments last week, the intermittent nature of wind power would “require either conventional backup or some way of including the amount of sheddable loads on the grid,” a structural redundancy not often taken into account.
The rapid growth in Asia is following the trend the EER forecast last year, when it estimated that by 2010 China and India would contribute 80 percent of the 6 GW growth in Asia by 2015. In this most recent report, the EER thinks that China might surpass its goal of 5 GW of installed wind base by as early as 2009.
Beyond regional development, EER sees big growth in transmission expansion as proposed new wind farms will need to connect to the grid. Additionally, the developing offshore wind market will require a lot of investment, but EER expects that Europe’s will be fully established by 2013.
The report assumes continued expansion in domestic and foreign governmental support for renewables, especially wind, something that is likely with next month’s UN Kyoto-follow up in Bali. Additionally, suppliers all along the wind power supply chain – the separate suppliers of the blades, gearboxes, etc – are investing in increasing production. New turbine production facilities are being built all over the world as the future of wind power becomes a certainty.