Wind growth to taper in 2016 after ‘spectacular’ 2015

19th April 2016 By: Terence Creamer - Creamer Media Editor

Wind growth to taper in 2016 after ‘spectacular’ 2015

Photo by: Duane Daws

The growth of wind-energy installations in 2016 is unlikely to match the unexpectedly strong 22% expansion of 2015, when a record 63.4 GW was added internationally, Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) secretary general Steve Sawyer said on Tuesday.

Speaking during a webcast he indicated that the pace of growth would slow to around 1.6%, with China unlikely to sustain its spectacular 2015 performance, when the country installed over 30 GW of new wind capacity.

Growth in China during the year was spurred partly by a desire among developers to capture the benefits of a feed-in tariff that was due to fall at the start of 2016. While there could be a similar rush in 2016 in light of indications that the tariff would decline again next year, GWEC was nevertheless forecasting a less spectacular 2016.

Besides the Chinese expansion, strong installation performances in the US and Germany, in particular, resulted in wind supplying about half of all global power generation growth in 2015, with installations breaching 60 GW for the first time in a single year.

Sawyer expected the large wind markets of China, the US, Germany, Brazil and India to continue to underpin the market in 2016 and for markets in Africa, Asia and Latin America to continue to proliferate.

South Africa – now one of 26 countries globally to have more than 1 GW of wind capacity installed – had been growing ahead of expectations. The South African Wind Energy Association reported recently that the country had 13 large wind farms in operation, comprising over 495 turbines. In addition, more than 3 GW of wind energy had already been allocated through government’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Producer Programme.

However, Sawyer highlighted Eskom’s financial health as an area of concern, as well as grid-connectivity challenges. However, grid availability was identified as a constraint in a number of markets.

GWEC expected tariffs to continue to come under pressure around the world, with Sawyer highlighting recent auctions in Morocco and Egypt, in particular, where prices of around $30/MWh had been bid.

Wind installations currently contributed about 4% to global electricity supply and the trade association was expecting that contribution to rise to between 6% and 8% by 2020 and to between 18% and 20% by 2030.

GWEC expected the cumulative capacity of wind to rise from 497 GW currently to over 790 GW by 2020, and Sawyer forecast that wind could make up one-third of electricity supply by 2050 “if we are to get to grips with the climate problem”.