Asia will continue to drive global growth in wind power markets during the next several years, the European market will remain solid but the North American market will be uncertain and volatile.
That was the prediction by Steve Sawyer, Secretary General of the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC), at the EWEA 2012 Annual Event in Copenhagen panel session that was held on Tuesday to discuss future changes in the international electricity-generating sector.
Referring to GWEC’s just-released Annual Market Update report, Sawyer said he expects total global installations for the next five years of about 255 GW [gigawatts] and total cumulative capacity of 493 GW.
According to GWEC statistics, there was nearly 238 GW of global installed capacity by the end of 2011, representing cumulative market growth of more than 20%. Regionally, the EU had almost 94 GW of installed wind power capacity by the end of last year, Asia had just over 82 GW and North America had nearly 53 GW.
Sawyer said he expects a strong 2012 for the global wind sector, but uncertainty over whether the U.S. government will extend its Production Tax Credit (PTC) for the wind sector will likely result in reduced results for 2013.
Asia set to overtake Europe
He added that GWEC statistics indicate that the Asian wind power sector will overtake the EU in terms of cumulative capacity for the first time in 2013. Those statistics also reveal that by 2013, Asia will have 125 GW of wind power while the EU will have 120 GW. North America will have 72 GW by the same time.
Daniel Shreve, of Make Consulting, told the audience that a U.S. wind power market downturn is a “virtual certainty” in 2013 because of uncertainty over the PTC and the fact that the nation has been dealing with slow economic growth, slacking power demand and low natural gas prices.
Shreve said that in 2009 the U.S. represented 90% of the wind power sector in North and South America. That, he added, will likely drop to only 53% of total market share by 2016 as Brazil, Canada and Mexico rapidly add more capacity.
He said there are still plenty of export opportunities into the South American wind market and growth, while increased Canadian growth is especially expected in Ontario and Quebec.
Chuichi Arakawa, of the Japanese Wind Energy Association, said wind power should become much more prominent in Japan after an earthquake and tsunami last year devastated a nuclear power plant in Fukushima.
Arakawa said Japan, which had 2.5 GW of installed wind power capacity by the end of 2011, has a potential value of 280 GW of onshore wind and up to 1,600 GW offshore.
He also said the national government is examining a proposal that would see 10% of the nation’s electricity supplied by wind power by 2050. That proposal suggests, he said, that Japan could have 11 GW of wind power by 2020 and 50 GW by 2050.
Arakawa added that national public opinion has dramatically changed from pro-nuclear to pro-renewables since the Fukushima disaster.
Kites – the future of wind energy?
Meanwhile, at another well-attended session at EWEA 2012 – the ‘hardware quickfire’ – 15 speakers had one minute slots to present a new technological idea. The audience then voted for their favorite presentation and four speakers won the right to give 10-minute presentations.
One of the most interesting ideas to emerge was kite wind energy. 60% of the energy produced by a typical wind turbine comes from the tip of the blade, so why not do without the turbine tower and the majority of the blade with a kite concept? Udo Zillmann of Daidalos Capital asked.
And the idea is not just pie in the sky, even Google have invested in a start-up company. Should attendees at the EWEA Annual Event be watching this space?
This article, by Chris Rose, is cross-posted with permission from AWEA blog