Monday, June 15, 2020

Celebrating the Achievements of Wind Power on Global Wind Day

June 15th is Global Wind Day, an opportunity to explore the power of wind energy to help reshape our energy systems, decarbonise our economies and boost jobs and growth. Wind is key to our energy mix because it reduces fossil fuel use which combats climate change and contributes to cleaner air.

There is now more than 591GW of wind power capacity installed globally in 91 countries, with continued growth predicted.

According to a report by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) the U.S. added 7,588 megawatts (MW) of new wind power capacity in 2018 which is 21 percent of all new U.S. generation capacity. Wind energy contributed 6.5 percent of the nation’s electricity supply, more than 10 percent of total electricity generation in 14 states, and more than 30 percent in three of those states (Kansas, Iowa, and Oklahoma). Advances in wind energy has made turbines bigger and more efficient. In the U.S. bigger turbines have increased the performance of wind power by 239 percent since 1998-1999.

A 2019 report by Power-technology.com, indicates the the U.S. is second only to China in wind power production. In 2018 the U.S. generated 96.4 GW of installed capacity. The country has six of the 10 largest onshore wind farms. Most of U.S. wind production comes from Texas, Iowa and Oklahoma followed by Kansas, Minnesota and North Dakota.

However, China is the undisputed global wind leader generating 221 GW which is over one third of global capacity. China is home to the world’s largest onshore wind farm with a capacity of 7,965 megawatt (MW). Germany is ranked third with 59.3 GW followed by India with a total capacity of 35 GW. Spain is fourth with 23 GW wind energy capacity, then the UK with a total capacity of just over 20.7 GW including six of the 10 highest-capacity offshore wind projects in the world. France is Number 7 with an installed capacity of 15.3 GW, Brazil is eighth with 14.5 GW, Canada is in 9th with 12.8 GW, with 566 MW of new installed capacity added in 2018 and Italy takes the tenth spot with just over 10 GW in wind energy capacity in 2018.

Wind energy prices are at historical lows making them one of the most competitive energy sources in markets across the world. Onshore wind is now the cheapest form of energy generation in much of Europe and offshore wind is not far behind with costs having fallen over 60 percent in 3 years. Wind is also getting much cheaper in the U.S. As reported by Bloomberg, in 2019 States in the central U.S. generated so much electricity from wind turbines that wholesale power prices fell below zero. Early last fall power prices fell below negative $10 a megawatt-hour for much of the region. Negative electricity prices are becoming commonplace in parts of the U.S. with California and Texas regularly see negative electricity prices.

The Berkeley Lab report indicates that low wind turbine pricing is pushing down installed project costs. Turbine equipment prices having fallen dramatically driving down the average installed cost of wind projects in 2018 by 40 percent compared to the peak in 2009 and 2010.

Lower installed project costs, along with improvements in capacity factors, are enabling aggressive wind power pricing. After topping out at 7 cents per kWh in 2009, the average levelized long-term price from wind power sales agreements has dropped to below 2 cents per kWh. 

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