Global wind power continues to propel forward in 2017

16th November 2017 By: Kim Cloete - Creamer Media Correspondent

China is surging ahead in wind power, blowing away the US – the world’s second-largest wind power market – by a long margin, while African countries are making more inroads despite facing challenges, delegates attending the yearly Windaba conference and exhibition, in Cape Town, have heard.

Global Wind Energy Council general secretary Steve Sawyer said this year is expected to end with between 530 GW and 540 GW of wind power installed worldwide.

Turbulence had marked some markets, including South Africa and the US, which had seen a drop-off in wind power as a result of politics.

“China is very much in front, with the US a distant second. India surpassed Spain a couple of years ago, and is likely to keep going despite the Spanish market picking up again. Germany had a very good run, while Brazil is also in the top ten wind energy markets. Turkey continues to be a fast-growing market.”

Sawyer told delegates that the Netherlands had made it into the top ten for the first time in 20 years, thanks to its strength in offshore wind power.

“After seven years of messing about and making the mistakes the Europeans had made, China now seems to be on track, while the offshore wind industry will finally start to fulfill some of its promise,” said Sawyer.

Meanwhile, the biggest movement in Africa is in Morocco, which has boasted extremely low prices, together with strong support from its government. Morocco has a wind power project costing 2.9c/kWh.

Ethiopia has had political issues, as well as drought, but Sawyer said it had a very aggressive programme aiming for up to 5 GW over the next five years.

Ghana “was going great guns” but found positive offshore oil, putting wind on hold for some time. However, some wind projects are at an advanced stage of development and should be on line before the end of the decade.

Namibia has 44 MW in the works, while the 310 MW Lake Turkina project has been completed in Kenya. The project developers are, however, battling with some connection issues.

The Singita project in Tanzania, which has been on the agenda for the past seven years, is also under construction.

“Brazil, Mexico and South Africa continue to be featured markets. We still have a great deal of faith in these markets, but it will require patience.”

In Europe, Denmark is the leader in terms of the highest penetration of wind energy, with 40% of the country’s energy now coming from wind, while in South America, Argentina holds enormous promise, with massive opportunity in Patagonia.

Sawyer said, globally, 29 markets now had more than 1 000 MW of installed capacity, with nine markets having more than 10 000 MW of installed capacity.

He said technology evolution continued, “but incrementally rather than spectacularly” except for some major developments in offshore wind power.

The two-day Windaba, which is the largest yearly gathering of the global wind industry in Africa, offers delegates from across the world the platform to strengthen continental alliances and strategic partnerships.